Racial DataIn an attempt to gather a comprehensive collection of racial data, police statewide would be required to identify, as accurately as possible, the ethnicity of all arrested under legislation State Senator Mattie Hunter  passed out of the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

“Previous to 2010, state police identified 99 percent of those arrested as either ‘Black’ or “White,’ leaving all other populations unaccounted for and ignored,” Hunter stated after the Senate approved the legislation unanimously. “With this measure, we will achieve greater documentation and understanding of the individuals being arrested in Illinois, for what particular crimes and be able to identify specific trends in arrests and incarceration.”


The legislation, Senate Bill 1598, establishes a process for collecting such data and information on the ethnicity of those being arrested by police.

Primarily, if arrested, one would be given a standardized questionnaire form to self-identify race. If self-identification is refused, the officer will deduce the individual’s racial background and report it. The measure requires that it be distinguished whether the form was completed by the arrestee or arresting officer. The information must be submitted to the Illinois State Police daily.

“There is an agreed perception throughout Illinois that the operations of our state’s criminal justice system, especially our courts and prisons, are negatively affecting certain ethnic populations,” Hunter said. “However, we have yet to acquire the necessary data to define these trends so corrective action can be taken.”  

Hunter’s measure additionally imposes a similar requirement at various other levels of our justice system, including rehabilitation programs, prison and probation.

The acquired information will be maintained by the Illinois state prison system and reported annually to both the state legislature and the governor.

Hunter’s effort is in cooperation with the Racial and Ethnic Impact Task Force, formed in 2011 as a result of her legislation as an outgrowth of the 2010 Disproportionate Justice Impact Study she championed, that was charged with devising practical solutions in standardizing the collection and analysis of racial data by the state criminal justice and corrections system.