(The Center Square) – The Illinois Supreme Court will consider consolidating the dozens of lawsuits that have been filed against the SAFE-T Act.
The criminal justice legislation makes Illinois the first state in the country to abolish cash bail on Jan. 1. At least 55 counties are going to court claiming the law is unconstitutional. An agreement has been made to consolidate the lawsuits into one single case in Kankakee County.
The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice recently held a protest outside the offices of two of the state’s attorneys opposed to the SAFE-T Act in DuPage and Will counties. The group penned an open letter they said was signed by 120 organizations calling on the Illinois General Assembly to protect the pretrial provisions of the SAFE-T Act and opposed state’s attorneys proposals for changes.
“It is absolutely essential that any future amendments to the Pretrial Fairness Act are made in the same spirit in which it was written,” said Katrina Baugh of The People’s Lobby. “Using this historic legislation as a vehicle for incarcerating more Black and brown people would be a slap in the face to the communities that have suffered under the injustices of the money bond system for decades.”
In addition to eliminating cash bail, law enforcement will no longer be allowed to arrest someone if they commit Class B or Class C misdemeanors, such as trespassing.
Loyola University published a study that estimated judges could not have detained a defendant in 56% of the arrests in 2020 and 2021 if the SAFE-T Act had been in place then.
“If post-COVID trends continue, that means somewhere between 89,000 and 115,000 individuals per year could not be initially detained under the PFA once the law goes into effect on January 1, 2023,” the study said. “If pre-COVID trends return, 66% to 85% of individuals arrested will be arrested for non-detainable offenses; that means somewhere between 172,000 and 207,000 individuals per year could not be initially detained under the PFA.”
During a recent town hall meeting, Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha called the SAFE-T Act “terrible”, and the claim that 100 out of 102 state’s attorneys around the state are against the legislation is no exaggeration because he was on those conference calls.
“State’s attorneys were yelling and screaming, Democrat, Republican, it didn’t matter,” said Farha. “There were two counties, Cook County and Lake County that were for it, nobody else was for it.”
In addition to state’s attorneys and law enforcement agencies voicing opposition to the bill, cities and county boards are getting into the act as well.
The McHenry County Board recently voted to oppose the SAFE-T Act.
“McHenry County is sending a clear message to Springfield that we oppose legislation that could put criminals back on the streets and decriminalize illegal drugs in our community,” said County Board Chairman Mike Buehler.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.
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