A criminal justice reform measure from State Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, to set a limit on the time certain warrants can remain active recently advanced through the Illinois House to the desk of Governor J.B. Pritzker.
“As a society, it’s important that we give individuals who made a mistake a second chance and the opportunity to hold a job and contribute in a positive manner to their community,” Harper said. “Unfortunately, for those who are on probation or supervision and are on the right track, something as simple as a traffic violation can lead to a warrant that jeopardizes their hard work, progress, and reform.”
Harper sponsored Senate Bill 1583 to help law enforcement prioritize violence reduction and free up resources and manpower by setting a ten-year limit on warrants for probation violations where the underlying conviction involved possession of a controlled substance or low-level theft. The bill is an initiative of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which found that most probation violations for such offenses did not involve individuals suspected of similar crimes or other major offenses, but instead involved traffic violations or petty ordinance violations. Under the measure, law enforcement will be able to seek an extension of such warrants if it is believed that an extension will serve the best interests of justice. The purpose of limit on warrants is to reduce the negative effects of warrants including disruption of families, loss of employment, and law enforcement being distracted from working toward combatting violent crime.
“By helping law enforcement focus on fighting violent crime instead of chasing down people on probation who commit a traffic violation and never committed a violent crime, we can ensure that the precious resources of law enforcement are helping make communities safer,” Harper said. “I encourage Governor J.B. Pritzker to sign this measure to help police, help individuals in the criminal justice system reintegrate into society, and help build stronger communities.”
Harper represents the 6th District, which includes all or portions of Armour Square, Bridgeport, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park, Back of the Yards, Canaryville, New City, West Englewood, Marquette Park, South Loop and River North.