Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Reducing Crime

While it may not be an issue that grabs the attention of the public, it should be.
After nearly two years of closed-door study, a privately funded task force is sending a proposed rewrite of the state's criminal laws to Illinois legislators that would prune the massive code by about one-third.

A 1,100-page bill emanating from the Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform Commission would simplify the statutes, cut many archaic references and make other corrections, panel members said. The criminal code was last overhauled in 1961, and lawmakers and governors have been tacking on amendments ever since.
There is one provision of the commission's findings that needs some serious scrutiny however, and that is this:
To curb future add-ons, the commission is expected to recommend the creation of an independent, advisory body that would evaluate criminal legislation for the General Assembly.
While this is a well-intentioned provision that is aimed at applying a throttle to the annual and ubiquitous flurry of 'get tough on crime' bills, I am not sure that having an external panel injected into the legislative process is a necessary or worthwhile precedent. Between legislators, staff, bar associations, interest groups, and the like, there should exist sufficient checkpoints to corral imprudent legislation.

But as my friend and colleague Rep. Bob Molaro points out, there is often a strong driving factor on the other side of legislative rationality.

Molaro, who chairs the House Judiciary II Committee, conceded that lawmakers tend to be prolific sponsors of crime bills. But he said they often pursue such measures with good intentions, on behalf of a constituent who has been victimized.

"Their heart's in the right place," the Chicago Democrat said. He added: "What am I going to say, it makes for a bad press release? It makes for a good press release."

The CLEAR Commission is comprised of some excellent members who have put in countless hours in order to restore some cohesiveness and consistency to our behemoth of a criminal code. I look forward to reviewing, and hopefully implementing, their final bill.


At December 27, 2006 at 10:26 AM, Blogger JB Powers said...

Here is the report itself

From Metropolis 2020

At December 27, 2006 at 11:53 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Thanks for that.

At December 27, 2006 at 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys take yourselves too seriously and think you can legislate everything from morality to calorie intake. Sure you have good intentions but that and 3 bucks will get you a cup of coffee.
Add to that the insatiable need to be and get re-elected and you guys fill our criminal code with duplicate overlapping and probably contradictory laws.

At December 27, 2006 at 3:13 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


I understand where you're coming from, but keep in mind that there are often times competing interests, and as Rep. Molaro said, many bills arise from specific situations that legislators are asked to address by constituents.

But I also think that those bills are driven more by a need to represent constituents than an 'insatiable need to get re-elected'.

And as you point out, that has led to both redundant and conflicting provisions in our criminal code, hence the role of the CLEAR commission.

At December 27, 2006 at 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From specific situations, shouldn't you be a little more forthcoming. Didn't you represent a constituient's interest in adressing the criminal/sexual predator notofication act? You are our always honest in your opinion, be honest in reposrting in reporting your actions.

At December 27, 2006 at 10:09 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


I'm not really sure where you're coming from, when I said specific situations, I meant that there are numerous cases where that happens.

One such example is legislation that I sponsored and passed last year removing individuals who did not commit sexual offenses from the sex offender registry and placing them onto a new registry, repairing a flaw in our criminal code.

The bill, supported by the Attorney General and State Police, was prompted by a call to me from a woman in my district whose son was impacted by the law in question. It has received national attention and is now being followed in other states with similar laws.

Honest enough? :)

At December 28, 2006 at 12:04 PM, Anonymous pl said...

John says
" many bills arise from specific situations that legislators are asked to address by constituents.

But I also think that those bills are driven more by a need to represent constituents than an 'insatiable need to get re-elected'."

That is exactly the point John you guys try to Represent constituents' specific needs( be they lobbyists manufacturers or possibly even the little old lady down the block) at the expense of the greater good ie common sense laws that don't tie up the courts and cost tax payer money.
On the insatiable need to ge re-elected I guess with the pay raises the monarchy that has developed around passing on elected offices to relatives pension scams etc maybe i am a little cynical as to politicians motives. But from where I sit you guys have a great gig and very few of you step aside after serving a term or two.

At December 28, 2006 at 3:23 PM, Blogger FightforJustice said...

I favor some kind of screening body to prevent most of the bills extending prison sentences and creating new mandatory minimums from coming up for a vote. We already overrely upon prison as a punishment, esp. for nonviolent offenders.

Legislators won't vote No on get-tough-on-crime bills for fear that vote will be used against them in the next election. Consequently, IL has a growing prison pop. even as the crime rate has been generally declining. Prison is an expensive form of punishnment that doesn't correct; it may lead to recidivism.

At December 28, 2006 at 10:03 PM, Anonymous DuPage Saint said...

Having an external panel is exactly what is needed since the legislature is always currying favor by tacking on amendments to the criminal code. So if you are going to get shot get shot by a school or place of business and have the offender do more time. Or get beaten by a thug who calls you a name and he does more time. Great pandering. How about doing something to fix problems and perhaps rehabilitate offenders so they can learn a trade or earn time off. But instead it is easier to make certain an offender never gets a job since his record can never be sealed or expunged in this state and in fact becomes part of his credit report


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