SPRINGFIELD — Republicans will make a tough-on-crime agenda the main focus of their 2022 campaigns, Illinois Home Minority Chief Jim Durkin stated Thursday.
Durkin, R-Western Springs, joined three different Home Republicans — Reps. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, and Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst — at a information convention Thursday through which they criticized Democrats for his or her prison justice reforms and claimed public security as a Republican situation.
“We’ll be working on public security,” Durkin stated. “What celebration has the again of legislation enforcement? What celebration, extra importantly, has the backs of victims? It is the Republicans. The Democrats have deserted this.”
The Republican legislators once more known as for the repeal of the SAFE-T Act.
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A large prison justice reform, the SAFE-T Act was passed by the General Assembly in January 2021 and signed into legislation by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in February. It requires physique cameras for law enforcement officials, extra telephone requires suspects in police custody, and officer intervention in instances of extreme power.
Most of the act’s provisions don’t go into impact till 2023.
All 4 Republicans advised the SAFE-T Act is in charge for rising crime charges throughout the state.
“Earlier than the passage of the SAFE-T Act, we warned them what would occur, and it has,” stated Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis. “Harmless victims are in an much more harmful place than they had been a 12 months in the past,”
“Illinois has turn into the wild wild Midwest,” Durkin stated.
Charges of violent crime have elevated up to now few years, stated Dr. Magic Wade, assistant professor of political research on the College of Illinois Springfield.
However that improve can’t be attributed to the SAFE-T Act, she stated, as a result of a lot of the act has but to enter impact, and crime charges in some components of the state have been rising since 2015.
“Violent crime was going up earlier than the pandemic,” Wade stated. “So the pandemic form of put into overdrive a pattern that was already occurring.”
Wade, who research the prison justice system, stated the rise in crime noticed in Illinois is a part of a nationwide pattern. Criminologists don’t agree on why crime charges rise and fall, which leaves room for folks to interpret knowledge in additional partisan methods.
Politicians in each events will use crime as a political software on this 12 months’s elections, stated Dr. Kent Redfield, professor of political science emeritus at the College of Illinois Springfield.
With Democratic supermajorities within the Home and the Senate, Republicans merely don’t have the votes to repeal the SAFE-T Act, he stated. It’s particularly unlikely in an election 12 months, through which it’s typical for legislators to keep away from main reforms.
However with rising crime charges on the general public’s thoughts, it’s simpler for politicians to get public consideration on a invoice even when it has no likelihood of passing, Redfield stated.
“This isn’t a lot about coverage arguments as it’s about making an attempt to get that main theme on the market,” he stated.
In keeping with Redfield, Democrats will now have to determine the way to extra successfully reply to elevated stress from their Republican colleagues and from voters.
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus responded to Durkin’s press convention with a press release accusing Republicans of utilizing “racial scare techniques” of their repeal makes an attempt.
“As normal with the Republican Celebration, any effort to make the justice system fairer for Black folks known as ‘harmful,’” the assertion learn.
Republicans’ emphasis on the SAFE-T Act in the end may not be the best technique, Redfield stated.
“A invoice that takes impact subsequent 12 months did not trigger issues,” he stated.