Democrat-supported bill allows suspects to potentially intimidate victims, Illinois Republicans warn

Critics warned that the measure could lead to witness tampering and intimidation, particularly in domestic violence situations.
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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

A measure poised for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk has some critics warning of unintended consequences for crime victims.

House Bill 3512 passed the state Senate in October. The House took up the Senate’s amendment during its one-day session Wednesday.

State Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, said the bill was necessary to clean up various aspects of a sweeping criminal justice and police reform law that went into effect Jan. 1.

The measure brings about pretrial services in jurisdictions where there are none and moves back the mandatory supervised release system and the new police decertification system to July 1.

“This bill also clarifies automatic decertification elements and provides a host of technical language changes,” Slaughter said.

Another element of the bill allows criminal suspects three phone calls when they are moved to a place of detention.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, says the way he reads it, that could be up to six calls if not more in some instances. And law enforcement can’t supervise them.

“Since they’re not allowed under your bill to eavesdrop, nor to, ‘it must not be monitored, eavesdropped or recorded,’” Durkin said. “How are [law enforcement] going to know who the heck they’re talking to?”

Durkin warned the measure could lead to witness tampering and intimidation, particularly in domestic violence situations.

“What you’re describing is felony tampering of a witness, leader,” Slaughter said.

“It doesn’t make a difference, you’re still allowing that phone call to be made,” Durkin said. “Sure they can get charged down the line but the fact is the call is going to be made and they’re going to scare the hell out of that victim who has been the subject of abuse by the family member.”

The measure passed with some Democrats that opposed the original bill saying the cleanup language was necessary.