Howard Brown Health commends Governor Pritzker for signing historic criminal justice reform bill into law
On February 22, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 3653 into law, bringing about historic and critically needed reforms to the criminal justice system in Illinois. This bill, authored by the Legislative Black Caucus and passed by the Illinois General Assembly last month, makes several significant changes aimed at addressing systematic racism and inequities within the criminal justice system. Some of these reforms include eliminating cash bail by 2023, banning the use of chokeholds and restricting use of deadly force, requiring regular and transparent reporting of deaths in police custody, addressing mass incarceration through reforms to sentencing laws and mandatory minimums, among other critical reform measures.
These reforms to policing practices and mass incarceration are long overdue. Structural racism is deeply rooted in all sectors of our society, including healthcare, housing, employment, and the criminal justice system. We know that Black and Indigenous people in particular are more likely to be incarcerated and also more likely to be killed by law enforcement compared to white people. Mass incarceration itself is a public health crisis—especially during a global pandemic—that stems from and perpetuates health inequities, discrimination, racism, and violence against marginalized communities. As an organization that is committed to advancing health equity, we know that it is impossible to advance health equity without also advancing racial justice and addressing systemic racism in all aspects of life. Howard Brown Health is proud to support the criminal justice reform bill and we commend Governor Pritzker for signing this bill into law. This is a critical first step to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have access to the care and resources that they need and deserve to stay safe and healthy.