Illinois Lawmakers Pass Bill To Reclassify 'Offenders' as 'Justice-Impacted Individuals'

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May 24, 2024

Illinois lawmakers this week passed a bill that would redesignate some "offenders" as "justice-impacted individuals" in state law, drawing criticism from Republicans.

The proposed law, House Bill 4409, would replace the term "offenders" with "justice-impacted individuals" in referring to men and women enrolled in the state's "Adult Redeploy Illinois" initiative, which aims to keep some offenders out of prison by sending them to rehabilitation programs. The bill's sponsor, state representative Kelly Cassidy (D.), said that the "offender" label "does not seem appropriate for a system in which we intend to return people to full participation in society," Chicago's WGN9 reported.

The change comes as agencies under the Biden administration have called for more "inclusive" language in referring to criminals. The Air Force Academy in 2022 barred cadets from using the word "terrorists," the Washington Free Beacon reported. Biden's Department of Homeland Security in 2021 asked officials to stop using terms such as "illegal alien" and instead opt for "undocumented individual" and "undocumented noncitizen," according to Fox News.

The measure passed the Illinois House last month and the State Senate on Tuesday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D.) has yet to sign it.

Republicans have blasted the bill, with state senator Steve McClure saying before the Tuesday vote, "Change this. Change that. The only thing you don't want to change is the behavior of criminals."

"Guess who is paying for that right now?" McClure went on. "Victims all across the state. I urge a no vote."

State senator Terri Bryant (R.) also noted that the change means higher costs for taxpayers.

"Each time we make that change, each agency has to make that change on every one of their documents," Bryant said. "Right now in the department of corrections, there are multiple changes that have been made and it's costing thousands of thousands of dollars just to do a name change."

The Chicago Tribune was even harder on the change, saying it is not only a "tortured euphemism" but also an example of Orwellian "doublespeak."

"Can you imagine," the Tribune wrote, "being the victim of a serious crime and discovering that the person who committed it was not only not in prison but no longer even called an offender?"

Published under: Democrats , Illinois , woke