Sims2018State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s budget address today:

“The governor has presented a budget plan that I believe has been put forward in good faith and that takes important steps to fund the vital criminal justice reforms we passed, including funding for additional law enforcement training and body cameras. Likewise, I am heartened by his proposal to increase funding to some social services, including those that help people stay in their homes. As I prepare to negotiate further, I’m determined that these areas remain our unshakeable priorities.”

Category: Press Releases

SimsSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed a measure that would impose comprehensive criminal justice reforms on how police are held accountable for the use of force, how courts impose bail and sentence convicts, and what rights all citizens, including detainees and prisoners, have with regard to their interactions with law enforcement officers.

“I am gratified that the Senate has passed this major reform package, and I believe it is the first step to transforming criminal justice in Illinois in a way that will uplift our communities and support our law enforcement professionals,” Sims said Sunday after House Bill 3653 passed the Senate 32-23. “This increases accountability and transparency in law enforcement, modernizes our bail and sentencing systems, and provides for greater protections and more humane treatment of those who have been arrested and accused of crime.”

Among provisions aimed at better police training and accountability are a ban on the use of chokeholds, increased training in crisis intervention, more mental health screening for officers, and requirements that officers submit data to an FBI database on the use of force. Whistleblower protections are increased, and the right to make phone calls and access their personal contacts before police questioning is codified.

Detainees, prisoners and all those who interact with police officers will have the expectation of prompt medical care while in custody, with special accommodations made for pregnant women. Charges of resisting arrest must cite a justification for the original arrest that was allegedly resisted against under the measure, as well. The purchase of military equipment like .50 caliber rifles and tanks by police departments would also be banned.

Courts will also see changes under the legislation, including an end to the practice of cash bail, as well as an end to revoking drivers’ licenses for nonpayment of fines.

The changes are a question of accountability and transparency, said John Rekowski of the Illinois State Bar Association in his testimony in favor of the legislation Saturday, but also a question of humanity.

“This requires a bold response,” said John Rekowski from the Illinois State Bar Association, speaking of the structural problems Illinoisans have identified within the criminal justice system. “[This bill] is a bold response. Now is not a time for incrementalism.”

The wide-ranging legislation came about in the months following the tragic death of George Floyd and increased calls among citizens and activists for a comprehensive approach to reforming the criminal justice system. Sims and other members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus led the effort in the Illinois General Assembly by convening nine public hearings in the months following the demonstrations of the past summer. In all, Sims led more than 30 hours of committee hearings soliciting input from law enforcement professionals, trial lawyers, prosecutors, community members and many other groups.

“A measure this transformative would not be possible without the heightened interest and vocal support of Illinoisans whose consciences have been shaken by years of misconduct without meaningful consequences,” Sims said. “Change, when it comes, always seems as if it has come too late, but I know that our successes here today are not an end, but a beginning to uplifting our communities and better supporting law enforcement in ways that improve our criminal justice system.”

House Bill 3653 passed the Illinois House this morning and awaits the governor's signature to become law. Once signed, it will be effective immediately.

Category: Press Releases

Justice for Breonna Taylor Graphic

CHICAGO— Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) released the following statement after news Wednesday that a grand jury charged ex-police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment and did not charge two Louisville police officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove who also fired weapons in the shooting that killed Breonna Taylor:

“Today’s decision was disappointing to say the least. The charges fall incredibly short of holding these bad actors accountable and just add to the devastation felt by Breonna Taylor’s family and our communities.

“The fact that none of the officers was charged directly for Breonna’s death makes it clear that our justice system does not equally value Black life, and that has to change.

“We must not allow our anger and frustration to deter us from seeking justice and equity. It is vital that we remain peaceful to effect change and honor Breonna’s memory. I will continue to work with my colleagues and community leaders until our justice system provides justice to all people.”

Category: Press Releases

road work

CHICAGO—As a result of an infrastructure package backed by Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago), the 17th District will see $258 million in infrastructure projects during the six-year span of the plan, with $24 million in road improvements set to begin in the next year.   

“This is a meaningful investment to preserve local roads and bridges,” Sims said. “We are taking a responsible approach to not only address safety and traffic issues, but to prevent them before they arise.”  

The largest project will be overlaying work in Crete and Beecher. It will cost $5.5 million and involve repairing deficiencies and resurfacing roads. 

Another $4.3 million project will span Lynwood and Glenwood. It will include widening the road, bi-directing a left turn lane and improvements to help people with disabilities.

Burnham will see $1.6 million worth of bridge repairs and maintenance.  

A $1.2 million project will also be done in Burnham and Calumet City. It will include surface maintenance at the right time (SMART) overlaying work, which is resurfacing an area that has previously had an overlay before major repairs are needed. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, if it is done at the right time, it can prevent serious distress. This project will also involve improvements for people with disabilities. 

"Aside from making our roads safer, these projects will provide quality jobs and help people recover from the financial impact of the pandemic,” Sims said.  

Passed in 2019, the historic and bipartisan Rebuild Illinois plan is the largest capital program in state history. In its first year, the program improved 1,706 miles of roadway, and repaired or reconstructed 128 bridges across Illinois.  

IDOT’s complete Multi-Year Plan can be found on its website

Category: Press Releases

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