Illinois looking to relabel ‘offenders’ as ‘justice-impacted individuals’

By Annabella Rosciglione – Washington Examiner

Illinois looking to relabel ‘offenders’ as ‘justice-impacted individuals’

Illinois is moving forward with a bill that would reclassify some “offenders” as “justice-impacted individuals.”

Under House Bill 4409, the Illinois Department of Corrections would add representation to the Adult Redeploy Illinois oversight board. Some of the bill also changes the word “offender” to “justice-impacted individuals.” Republicans in the state are warning the logistics of the move could cost Illinois taxpayers.

“Over and over again, we keep changing the name of how we are referring to those who have entered into criminal activity and each time we make that change, each agency has to make that change on every one of their documents. Right now, in the Department of Corrections, there’s multiple changes that have been made, and it’s costing thousands and thousands of dollars just to do a name change. Why is it necessary to make the name change?” state Sen. Terri Bryant (R) said at a hearing.

One Republican also said the name change is offensive to victims of violent crime.

“There seems to be this rush to take away all accountability for people who commit crimes. If a person is going to get on the right path, they have to know they did something wrong. This apologizing for the criminal, the person who chooses to commit crimes to the detriment of our victims, the people who don’t choose to be victims of crimes, is absolutely incredible,” state Sen. Steve McClure (R) said.

The legislation is sponsored by Democratic Illinois State Reps. Kelly M. Cassidy and Lindsey LaPointe and Democratic state Sens. Robert Peters, Mike Simmons, and Adriane Johnson. Democratic state Senators told their Republican counterparts not to get too angry about the name change, saying the ARI program needed more representation.

“We’re adding the DOC, adding Human Services, Sangamon and Cook County adult probation and two members who have experienced the ARI system as offenders or as justice-impacted individuals,” Peters said.

McClure still asked Peters what a “justice-impacted individual” meant. He also asked if the word “victim” would be changing.

“That means someone who has been impacted by the criminal justice system and is an individual,” Peters said. “We [in this bill] don’t mess with anything in regards to the term ‘victim,’ we just change the word ‘offender’ to ‘justice-impacted individual.’”

The bill passed through the Illinois House and Senate where it awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) signature.

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