Last week, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law legislation that makes it easy for the police to secretly record people when investigating drug crimes. Under current law, in order for the police to listen in to conversations they have to go to court and obtain a warrant from a judge. This new law has removed this requirement. Starting on January 1, 2013, police will be able to eavesdrop on a drug suspect's conversations by simply getting permission from the prosecutor. Any recordings obtained can only be used in drug cases and in the prosecution of any violent felonies that occur during the commission of the drug crime, such as murder, assault, robbery or kidnapping. As you can imagine, the measure has its supporters and critics. Critics point to the erosion of a system of checks and balances that protects citizens from inappropriate conduct by the police. Supporters point to the need to quickly obtain information on any suspected illegal drug activity. It is important to note that any recordings obtained by this process can be used by the prosecutor and by the defendant and can also be used in any proceedings involving any disciplinary action against the police officers. This measure is sure to be the subject of extensive court challenges in the future.
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