GURNEE, Ill. – State Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee, issued the following statement on the passage of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ criminal justice reform legislation and her vote to pass the measure:
“The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Laquan McDonald, our own community’s Justus Howell and too many other Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement has shone a light on many fatal flaws in our criminal justice system. While these issues may have only recently reached the forefront of public discourse, these painful inequalities have been harming communities of color for decades.
“Year after year, Black individuals are killed by police officers twice as often as white people. And today, while Black people comprise about 15% of Illinois’ total population, roughly 54% of individuals who are incarcerated in our prisons are Black. These are just two of many jarring, heartbreaking statistics that paint a sobering picture of the present state of racial inequality in our country. Faced with these grim facts and the tragic deaths that have occurred in recent years, it is inarguable that our criminal justice system is profoundly broken and in need of serious repair.
“This summer, residents from all walks of life, including many of our local police officers, joined together to speak that truth and call for change. I’m proud to have joined them in their cries for justice, and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to vote to pass a comprehensive policing and criminal justice reform package that makes a great deal of that long-sought-after justice a reality.
“I did not take my vote on this legislation lightly. I had serious concerns about critical aspects of this measure as it was initially introduced. My reservations stemmed from a variety of feedback I received from members of the law enforcement community and my constituents. I supported the general intent of the bill, but I firmly believed it needed to be amended to ensure it achieved its intended goals safely and effectively.
“After pinpointing the parts of the legislation that local police officers and residents were opposed to, I brought my concerns to the authors of the bill. They worked tirelessly during our brief legislative session to amend the measure using the input I shared with them. The authors didn’t rewrite the entire bill, but they removed or altered key pieces that could have potentially endangered law enforcement officers and the communities they protect. The final product I voted to pass still accomplished the original purpose of the bill, but it did it in a way that fully protects innocent crime victims and police officers.
“Let me be clear, this legislation does not defund the police. This bill brings greater accountability and transparency to our criminal justice and law enforcement systems. It gives more mental health and safety resources to police officers and increases protections for the vast majority of law enforcement officers who carry out their job honorably and fairly, and it gives much-needed justice to communities who have gone without it for far too long. In the interest of the safety and welfare of all residents, I am proud to have helped pass this bill.
“I will always be a strong supporter of law enforcement. I am deeply grateful to them, as well as to their families, for the sacrifices they make to keep us safe every day. I look forward to working with police officers and everyday residents as we continue to have tough conversations about what a fair, safe and equal system of criminal justice looks like in our community, and as we work together to make that more of a reality each and every day.”
Visit Rep. Joyce Mason’s website
247-E Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
36100 Brookside Dr.
Suites LL 60
Gurnee, IL 60031