SIULAW Prof. Jennifer Brobst talks with local ABC affiliate, WSIL TV3, about a criminal justice reform bill being discussed by the IL House of Representatives

January 11, 2021 , Madeline Parker | WSIL TV3


(WSIL)---House Bill 163 includes two major changes to how law enforcement is conducted in Illinois.

First, cash bail would almost entirely be eliminated. And, qualified immunity for law enforcement officers would also be removed.

Local law enforcement in our area say these changes have the potential to harm the public.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard remains outspoken about the proposed Criminal Justice reform bill.

He said lawmakers did not consult law enforcement when drafting the proposal, causing the bill to contain policies that could endanger the general public.

"It's important to note that while we support proper reform, there are things that are deal breakers," said Bullard. "Anything that threatens public safety, anything that threatens officer safety in reform, we will oppose."

If the bill passes, two major policies would be in place.

"They're calling it an abolishment of cash bail, but it's not quite that, there are some exceptions, but the other is eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement when they engage in misconduct, so that they could be sued," said SIU School of Law Associate Professor, Jennifer Brobst.

Brobst said cash bail disproportionately affects lower-income communities.

"As a former prosecutor, it was heart breaking to see somebody sitting in jail for months on something that probably wouldn't have gotten them a day in jail if they had been convicted. So it simply, at that level, wrong in how its implemented absolutely impacts low income people, predominately of color," said Brobst.

However, Brobst agrees a new system must be put in place for accountability, rather than eliminate the system altogether.

"But the problem is if you eliminate bond and don't provide a sufficient alternative, will people commit other crimes? Probably," said Brobst.

Read the rest of the story and watch the video here.