SPRINGFIELD, IL â€“ To protect the rights of Illinoisans arrested without cause, state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, recently passed legislation that will require law enforcement agencies to destroy arrest records of individuals who were apprehended as a result of mistaken identity.
â€œToo often, people are mistakenly arrested for simply matching the description of someone who committed a crime, and then these innocent individuals are forced to live with a cloud of suspicion hanging over their heads,â€ Dunkin said. â€œMy bill will help ensure that people who were wrongfully accused are not punished for mistakes made by law enforcement.â€
Under current law, police and other law enforcement agencies are prohibited from destroying arrest records without the consent of either the Local or State Records Commission or a court order directing them to do so. Dunkinâ€™s House Bill 169 would require law enforcement agencies to delete the recordÂ of individuals who were mistakenly arrested and against whom no charges were filed. The Illinois State Police, the Cook County Public Defender, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Illinois African American Family Commission support the measure and agree with Dunkin that people wrongfully accused of a crime should bear no responsibility for that crime.
â€œA bedrock principle of our democracy is that people are innocent until proven guilty,â€ Dunkin said. â€œThis fundamental protection from government overreach must include shielding the innocent from suspicion in the future.â€
The bill passed the House with bipartisan support and is now up for consideration in the Senate.