On February 22, 2021, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 3653 into law as Public Act 101-0652. This has been dubbed the “SAFE-T Act” and is commonly referred to as the “New Justice Reform Bill”.
The “New Justice Reform Bill” amends the Criminal Code of 2012, adding language regarding when a peace officer is justified in the use of force when making an arrest. This includes when the officer believes “based on the totality of the circumstances” that force is necessary to defend him/herself or another from bodily harm. It also includes when an officer believes that force is necessary to prevent resistance or escape if the officer “reasonably believes the person to be apprehended cannot be apprehended at a later date and is likely to cause great bodily harm to another” and the person “just” committed or attempted to commit a forcible felony involving bodily harm or is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon.
Regarding the use of force to prevent escape, an officer who has an arrested person in custody is justified in the use of force, but not deadly force, to prevent escape. The law prohibits the use of deadly force to prevent escape unless, based on the totality of the circumstances, deadly force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to an officer or another person.
The New Justice Reform Bill also prohibits using deadly force against someone based on the danger that person poses to themselves if they do not pose an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person. It further prohibits using deadly force against someone committing a property offense unless the offense is terrorism or unless deadly force is otherwise authorized by law. Furthermore, in addition to chokeholds, the law now prohibits using restraint above the shoulders with risk of asphyxiation unless deadly force is justified.
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