Illinois SAFE-T Act is not Safe

By Jaycie Doerr, Editor-in-Chief

MACOMB, IL – The new Illinois SAFE-T Act is full of new legislation that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. This new Act will, at the same time, ensure greater safety to the citizens while also allowing suspected criminals walk freely in their pretrial stage.

The Act was signed late January by Gov. JB Pritzker with the goal of reforming the criminal justice system in Illinois. Parts of the act include more police training on de-escalation and use of force. It also requires deeper investigations into police complaints, including those given anonymously. All of these positive steps forward in our criminal justice system.

However, other parts of the 764-page act include new legislation that disregards the safety of Illinois residents. Starting in the new year, cash bail will no longer be a condition of release. Instead, the judge will decide based on evidence given whether the suspect is dangerous enough to be held during pre-trial. Because the judge already has the power to hold a suspect without bail, all this new law is accomplishing is the release of more suspected criminals on the street prior to their court date.

Suspected offenses that can no longer be held pre-trial include those accused of kidnapping, arson, aggravated DUI, aggrivated battery and second degree murder. All of these crimes are what the average citizen would call “violent.” Would it be reasonable to release someone charged with a non-violent crime? Yes. The release of violent offenders, even those who are only suspected of criminal acts, is a danger to public safety.

Someone accused of kidnapping may again go after their victim. Someone accused of drunk driving will drink again. Someone accused of violently battering another person will go after that victim again.

Will it protect innocent people from sitting in jail? Yes. Will it protect victims from retaliation? No. The goals set out by the new act are not met. In many ways, the SAFE-T Act is a step forward for Illinois, but it also hinders the safety of many of its residents.

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