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SPRINGFIELD - In the wake of a steep hike in the number of carjacking incidents in Chicago, the Illinois Senate took action this week to close a loophole carjackers have used to avoid prosecution and to ensure young offenders are sent to juvenile detention when arrested for carjacking incidents.

Under the current law, an officer may only pursue auto theft charges if the person driving the car has “knowledge that the vehicle is stolen.” As a result, car thieves routinely avoid accountability by denying that they have any knowledge that the vehicle is stolen.

State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs, is a chief co-sponsor of the legislation, Senate Bill 2339, which would allow police officers the ability infer based on surrounding facts and circumstances that an individual in possession of a stolen vehicle has knowledge that the vehicle is stolen.

The measure would also help ensure minors charged with carjacking are detained. A recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times showed that most juvenile carjacking suspects are released to their parents or on electronic monitoring within 24 hours of arrest. SB 2339 would curtail that practice.

“Violent offenders, regardless of their age, should not be able to escape accountability by lying to an officer about the source of their stolen vehicle,” Cunningham said. “Carjackers are aware that this outdated law allows a brazen lie to become a get out of jail free card. It’s time to put a stop to it.”

To discourage youth from starting on the path to carjacking, SB 2339 would require that minors charged with vehicular hijacking, aggravated vehicular hijacking, or possession of a stolen vehicle, to be held for a detention hearing within 40 hours of being detained. If the court finds probable cause that the minor committed the crime, the minor would be held for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, which would be used along with other factors to decide if the minor should be further detained, or receive counseling or other necessary services.

“Too often, minors who commit vehicular theft are arrested and released with no determination being made as to whether or not they are a danger to their community or their own well-being,” Cunningham said. “This bill will end that practice.”

SB 2339 passed the Senate and now heads to the House for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield – The City of Chicago would be prohibited from requiring police officers to fulfill ticket quotas and assessing officers based on the number of tickets they issue under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate today.

The legislation, Senate Bill 3509, is sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

SB 3509 would rescind the City of Chicago’s exemption from a 2014 law banning counties and municipalities from assigning ticket quotas and using the number of tickets an officer issues as a performance evaluation. The law made exemptions for municipalities with their own independent inspectors general and law enforcement review authorities.

“Policing should not be used as a revenue enhancement strategy by municipalities,” Cunningham said. “This bill will ensure our officers are not distracted from their regular law enforcement duties in order to meet ticket quotas.”

Supporters of the legislation, such as the Fraternal Order of Police, argue that ticket quotas create unnecessary tension between law enforcement and the communities they serve by interfering with officers’ ability to exercise compassion in certain situations.

SB 3509 passed out of the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – Legislation advanced by State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) would expand the penalties for public indecency for incarcerated individuals, resulting in more severe jail time and fines for inmates who expose themselves to female employees.

The legislation, Senate Bill 3104, intends to curb the increasing trend of inmates exposing themselves to female public defenders and correctional officers.

SB 3104 would allow for inmates to be charged with public indecency. Under current law, “public indecency” refers only to behavior performed in a public place such as acts of sexual conduct or a lewd exposure of the body done with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person.

Additionally, inmates would be required to register as a sex offender upon their second offense of public indecency. Currently, inmates are not required to register as a sex offender until their third offense.

In 2017, 222 detainees have been charged with indecent exposure, including 144 cases where the victims were jail personnel and 29 where complaints were filed by defenders.

“It goes without saying that female staffers deserve to do their job without being exposed to such demeaning behavior,” Cunningham said. “Even more shameful is the idea that we would expect women to continue to go to work and contend with downright harassment after more than two years of formal complaints, the first of which dates back to October 2015. Enough is enough.”

SB 3104 passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee and now heads to the floor for a vote.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – Individuals who threaten gun violence against schools on social media would be required to reimburse police departments for added security and emergency response costs under legislation sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

The legislation, Senate Bill 563, is aimed at reducing the trend of copycat threats in the wake of school shootings by updating the disorderly conduct statute, which is the state law most often used to prosecute individuals who make threats against schools. Under current law, those convicted of making threats are required to reimburse public safety agencies for response-related costs, but only if they make the threat via a 9-1-1 phone call or if they specifically threaten to use a bomb.

“Most threats of violence against schools are no longer made through a phone call and increasingly, the threats make no mention of a bomb,” Cunningham said. “According to law enforcement agencies in my district, threats against schools are more commonly made via social media posts. The law needs to be updated to address this change.”

In an additional effort to combat school shooting, the legislation would also give police departments the ability to immediately bring individuals who make threats against a school to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

“The burden for determining whether a threat against a school is legitimate or just a prank should not fall solely on the police,” Cunningham said. “We need to empower our law enforcement and healthcare providers to work together and provide that safety net.”

In drafting the legislation, Cunningham worked closely with Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan, whose department heightened security measures at local schools four times this year due to threats on social media.

 In some cases throughout the country, school administrators have ordered school closures as a pre-emptive measure following online threats.

Category: Press Releases

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