Fact Check: Illinois Legislators Did NOT Pass Bill Redefining Criminals As 'Justice-Impacted Individuals'

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Illinois Legislators Did NOT Pass Bill Redefining Criminals As 'Justice-Impacted Individuals' One Group Only

Did Illinois legislators pass a bill to redefine all convicted criminals as "justice-impacted individuals"? No, that's missing context: An amendment to a bill renaming offenders "justice-impacted individuals" only applies to participants in the state's Adult Redeploy Illinois program, Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, one of the bill's sponsors, told Lead Stories. The name change does not apply to all people in Illinois who committed crimes.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, on May 22, 2024. It read:

Satire is now reality:

Illinois just passed a bill to change the word 'offender' to 'justice-impacted individual'

HB 4409 passed both chambers.

This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-05-31 at 2.29.58 PM.png(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 31 18:31:22 2024 UTC)

The text of the bill, HB 4409 (archived here), states that it is an amendment to section 20 of The Illinois Crime Reduction Act of 2009. This section is about the Adult Redeploy Illinois program.

Amends the Illinois Crime Reduction Act of 2009. Changes references from 'offenders' to 'justice-impacted individuals'.

In the bill's discussion of the program, "offender" is crossed out and replaced with "justice-impacted individuals." Nowhere does it state that the term will be used for all offenders in Illinois.

The Illinois Senate passed the bill on May 21, 2024, after the state's House of Representatives approved it on May 16, 2024. As of May 31, 2024, it was awaiting the governor's signature to become law.

Cassidy (archived here) told Lead Stories via email on May 31, 2024, that the legislation is only for people in Adult Redeploy Illinois (archived here). She described Adult Redeploy Illinois as "an incredibly successful diversion program" intended "to lower the prison population and reduce recidivism" by providing "grants to local jurisdictions" to finance "problem-solving courts" (courts that focus on one type of offense or perpetrator, according to the National Institute of Justice), "intensive probation" and "other evidence-informed interventions ..."

Cassidy explained the reasoning behind calling program participants "justice-impacted individuals" rather than "offenders":

Given that participants engage in [Adult Redeploy] programming before a conviction, the Board's desire to not label participants with a word associated with a criminal history is a thoughtful way to be consistent through the process and set participants up for success. I would hope that all of us who care about the criminal justice system are more focused on reducing crime and recidivism by successfully diverting people from criminal activity than semantics.

Those who choose to fan the flames of misinformation and fearmongering do all of us a disservice. Focusing on semantics rather than substance is an insult to everyone's intelligence.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about prison populations can be found here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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