Illinois Set to Change Description of  ‘Offender’ to ‘Justice-Impacted Individual’ in State Law

Illinois State Sen. Robert Peters sponsored House Bill 4409 to change “offender” to “justice-impacted individual” in state law.

In a move that seems like parody, but sadly isn’t, a bill that passed both houses in Illinois yesterday would change the word “offender” to “justice-impacted individual” in state law.

Illinois House Bill 4409 also adds Illinois Department of Corrections representation to the Adult Redeploy Illinois oversight board.

After passing both the House and Senate, it can now be sent to the governor for further action.

From the bill:

House Committee Amendment No. 1
Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Illinois Crime Reduction Act of 2009. Changes references from “offenders” to “justice-impacted individuals”. Provides that funds shall be distributed via a grant program (rather than allotment of funds shall be based on a formula). Provides that the Adult Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board is created to oversee, provide guidance, and develop an administrative structure for the Adult Redeploy Illinois Program. Provides that once all members have been appointed, the Board may exercise any power, perform any function, take any action, or do anything in furtherance of its purposes and goals upon the appointment of a quorum of its members. Establishes specified membership on the Adult Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board. Provides that the Oversight Board shall, in addition to its other duties establish a grant program (rather than develop a formula) for the allotment of funds to local jurisdictions for local and community-based services in lieu of commitment to the Department of Corrections and a penalty amount for failure to reach the goal of reduced commitments stipulated in the plans. Provides that grant funds awarded shall be administered by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, in coordination with the Oversight Board, and shall be consistent with the requirements of the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act. Provides that the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority shall provide administrative support to the Adult Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board.

The Center Square reports:

The ARI program aims to reduce crime and recidivism at a lower cost to taxpayers through community services as an alternative to prison. Proponents said the ARI program is successful in reducing crime and that it has eligibility requirements, specifically individuals in the program have to be first-time offenders.

State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, urged lawmakers to vote no.

“Over and over again, we keep changing the name of how we are referring to those who have entered into criminal activity and each time we make that change, each agency has to make that change on every one of their documents. Right now in the Department of Corrections, there’s multiple changes that have been made and it’s costing thousands and thousands of dollars just to do a name change. Why is it necessary to make the name change?” Bryant said Tuesday.

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Republicans said the focus shouldn’t be on what they called the “poor offender” but rather on the victims of violent crimes. State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, brought up how the Prisoner Review Board released Crosetti Brand, the man who killed 11-year-old Jayden Perkins a day after his release. He said Brand wasn’t a justice-impacted individual but rather an offender.

During the debate on the bill, McClure pressed State Sen. Robert Peters, the bill’s sponsor,  for a definition of what “justice-impacted individual” means.

Peters responded, “That means someone who has been impacted by the criminal justice system and is an individual. We [in this bill] don’t mess with anything in regards to the term ‘victim,’ we just change the word ‘offender’ to ‘justice-impacted individual.’”

McClure then asked, “So are you changing what victims are referred to? Are they going to be going to be referred to as ‘criminally-impacted individuals?'”

Peters responded, “Sometimes we refer to victims as ‘survivors.’ Survivors of violent crime, sometimes survivors of domestic violence. So we use multiple terms for a lot of different people for a lot of different things.”

McClure shot back, “So are you saying the bill changes the word victims multiple times? Or is there no change at all to the word victims within the legislation? Or is the word victims not in the legislation at all?”

Peters replied, “Well, we don’t mess with anything in terms of the word victim. We just changed offender to justice- impacted individual.”

Watch:

Illinois legislators are also pushing a bill to change “armed habitual criminal” to “persistent unlawful possession of a weapon.”

Sen. Peters was a key supporter of ending cash bail in the state.

The Gateway Pundit reported that Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to entirely abolish cash bail which was a massive win for criminals.

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