As the Chief Legal Officer in Vermilion County, I am compelled to inform those that I have sworn to protect that the proposals set forth in House Bill 163 pose a serious threat to public safety, specifically, to victims and witnesses of violent crimes in our community. This Bill, which is 61 1 pages in length, was introduced just yesterday, Wednesday, January 6, 2021, and likely will be presented for a vote in Springfield as early as tomorrow, Friday January 8, 2021. This extensive Bill is poorly drafted, presents various reactionary requirements inconsistent with long standing and sound jurisprudence of our Country and State, and its timing provides no reasonable opportunity for proper debate on the House floor.
House Bill 163, for example, proposes that all defendants charged with criminal acts should be presumed to be released from custody without posting any monetary bail. This presumption alone denies crime victims their constitutional rights. Article l, section 8.1 of the Illinois Constitution, codified in the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, mandates that crime victims shall have the right to have the safety of the victim and the victim 's family considered in denying or fixing bail the amount of bail, determining whether to release the defendant, and setting conditions of release after arrest and conviction. Requiring an unwarranted additional presumption of no bail clearly contradicts previously established and superior law, places crime victims at a greater risk to be re-victimized, and unnecessarily subjects witnesses to threats and intimidation.
The Bill also, for instance, requires that those in police custody, within one hour, must be given the ability to retrieve phone numbers contained in the contact list on that individual's cellular phone prior to the phone being placed into inventory. The drafters of this Bill obviously do not comprehend, or simply choose to ignore, how often such devices contain explicit contraband (such as child pornography) or other evidence of criminal conduct (such as drug trafficking and/or sex trafficking contact lists). Nevertheless, in numerous circumstances, this new law absurdly would allow an individual in custody the right to access the very device containing contraband, and, accordingly, the ability to destroy such evidence.
Most egregiously, however, is that this Bill would strip the People of this State the ability to charge an individual with what is commonly referred to as Felony Murder even though that individual kills another person, and in performing the acts causing the victim's death, that individual committed or was attempting to commit a forcible felony. Eradicating this offense simply is inconsistent with the ends of justice.
In short, this poorly drafted Bill containing ill-conceived directives is an effort to systematically dismantle law enforcement, which in turn would affect the integrity of every investigation, prosecution, and the safety of every citizen of our community. We must stand with the men and women of law enforcement who consistently stand up for us, and we must not allow this Bill to be voted upon without proper, timely, and transparent debate.
Honorable Jacqueline M. Lacy, Vermilion County State 's Attorney