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23 May, 2024 14:57

US state to re-label ‘offenders’ as ‘justice impacted individuals’

Opponents of the proposal say it shows disrespect to the victims of violent crime
US state to re-label ‘offenders’ as ‘justice impacted individuals’

Legislators in the US state of Illinois have approved a controversial bill changing the term “offender” in the criminal code and classifying those convicted of a crime as “justice impacted individuals.”

House Bill 440, which includes the renaming, passed both the Illinois House and Senate on Tuesday, and has been sent to Governor J.B. Pritzker for his signature.

The proposal sparked heated debate among lawmakers. Some senators urged a ‘no’ vote, arguing that the name change could cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. 

“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,” Republican State Senator Terri Bryant said during a hearing, according to local media.

Legislators opposed to the bill also stated that focusing on the offender disrespects the victims of violent crimes. According to Republican State Senator Steve McClure, the bill takes away all accountability for people who commit criminal acts.

“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,” McClure said.

The bill’s supporters emphasized the success of the Adult Redeploy Illinois (ARI) program in reducing crime and that it has eligibility requirements. Specifically, individuals in the program have to be first-time offenders.