Illinois Democrats Dumping the Term ‘Offender’ for ‘Justice-Impacted Individual’ in State Law

In this Friday, July 13, 2018 file photo, inmates pass the time within their cell block at
Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP

Illinois Democrats are pushing a bill that will change how criminals are described in state laws and codes with a proposal that would end the use of the word “offender” and replace it with the term “justice-impacted individual.”

House Bill 4409 makes changes to Adult Redeploy Illinois, a program that helps convicts enter halfway houses and escape jail time. The bill is taking heat for including a provision to end the use of the word “offender” to describe criminals in the state’s legal codes.

Democrats were forced to justify the soft-pedaling of terminology.

Chicago Democrat State Sen. Robert Peters, for one, warned against getting “hung up” on the woke wordplay.

“This is good public safety policy. I know we’re getting hung up on a term, but I don’t want to lose sight that we are adding the department of corrections to this bill,” Peters insisted, according to WGN-TV.

Chicago Democrat Rep. Kelly Cassidy added that the change in language is meant to help criminals return to society.

“So, carrying a label of offender for life does not seem appropriate for a system in which we intend to return people to full participation in society,” Cassidy exclaimed.

The few Republicans left in the legislature, though, scoffed at the claims and ridiculed the changes in terminology, calling the ideas budget-busting and soft on crime, the Center Square reported.

“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,” said Republican State Sen. Terri Bryan. “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?”

Republican State Sen. Steve McClure added that the bill just tends to take “accountability” away from criminals and does an injustice to the victims of 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,” McClure said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Sen. Peters, though, refuted the claim that Democrats are making light of the anguish of victims and insisted that they are just trying to treat criminals as “individuals” and that they aren’t going to “mess with anything in regards to the term ‘victim.'”

As Democrats have fully controlled the levers of power in Illinois since 2003 and currently have a super majority and control all state-wide offices, the bill passed easily and is waiting for left-wing Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature.

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