Student discipline, school safety, the school-to-prison pipeline and other related topics have been discussed at the state and federal levels extensively in the last few years.
In the 100th Illinois General Assembly, two identical bills have been filed to limit the ability of law enforcement to intervene in schools.
Senate Bill 704 and House Bill 1779 would prohibit law enforcement from making arrests or issuing criminal citations for activity that occurs on school grounds, during school hours, with some exceptions. Similar language had been proposed in SB 3004 from the 98th General Assembly (2014) and HB 5617 in the 99th G.A. (2016). Exceptions include:
If the offense constitutes a felony if committed outside the school setting;
If the offense involves an act of physical violence against another person or resulted in a serious bodily injury, and the arrest of the student is necessary to avoid an ongoing threat to the physical safety of other members of the school community;
If the offense involves the use of a firearm; or
If the offense involves an act of criminal sexual abuse
The Alliance opposes this bill as written for the following reasons:
The legislation creates a double-standard for offenses committed on school grounds and those committed off school grounds, creating a "safe haven" for illegal activity and an unsafe environment for schools, students, and school personnel.
The legislation allows students to commit multiple misdemeanors without the ability of law enforcement to intervene.
The legislation violates the rights of crime victims, as they have no legal recourse to protect themselves.
HB 1779 has been tabled since it failed to pass out of committee before the House deadline. The committee deadline for Senate Bill 704 deadline has been extended until April 7, 2017.