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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker during an April press conference in Chicago. Photo: Chris Sweda-Pool via Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has signed sweeping criminal justice reform legislation this week that would end cash bail statewide by 2023.

Why it matters: Illinois is the first state to move to eliminate cash bail, which critics say is a "poor people's tax" that benefits the wealthy who can afford to post bail, and disproportionately affects people of color.

How it works: Under the new law, most defendants would be released while awaiting trial unless a judge rules otherwise, per Chicago's WGN9.

What they're saying: Pritzker said in a statement the legislation "marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice."

  • State Sen. Elgie Sims (D), a member of the Black Caucus that authored the bill signed by Pritzker Monday, said in a statement: "These reforms should merely be the first steps we take to transform criminal justice in Illinois."

The big picture: The bill also requires police in the state to wear body cameras, sets standards on use of force, crowd control responses, de-escalation, and arrest techniques, and eliminates license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees for some traffic offenses, among other measures.

  • The provisions are set to be phased in over four years from July 1.

The other side: State House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement Tuesday the incoming laws were an "insult to our first responders, law enforcement and the law-abiding citizens of Illinois who want to be free from violence and destruction from the criminal element."

  • Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, referred to reforms in a statement as the "anti-police bill."

Go deeper

Virginia set to abolish the death penalty

The Virginia State Capitol. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia lawmakers on Monday gave their final approval to legislation that will abolish capital punishment in the state.

Why it matters: The measure now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who has said he will sign it into law. Once signed, Virginia will become the first southern state and the 23rd state nationwide to end capital punishment.

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

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