Lawmakers and State’s Attorneys Call for the Repeal of the SAFE-T Act

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The SAFE-T Act, which implements sweeping reforms to Illinois’ criminal justice system, continues to draw criticism from around the state.  

Illinois will be the first state in the country to abolish cash bail on Jan. 1. The 700-page bill not only eliminates cash bail, but increases police oversight and limits a judge’s discretion on who they can hold in custody.

During a news conference in Decatur Tuesday called by the Illinois Freedom Caucus, Macon County State’s attorney Scott Rueter said the law essentially ties the hands of judges. 

“What the law does is it takes a lot of discretion away from judges, and that’s the problem,” said Rueter.  “Those are the folks that should be having the discretion to do what’s best for a community.” 

The Illinois Supreme Court has consolidated 58 county lawsuits challenging the legality of the SAFE-T Act into one and will be heard in Kankakee County. 

Proponents have argued that the SAFE-T Act will combat systemic racism and make the criminal justice system more equitable. 

“The Constitution protects the presumption of innocence,” said David Cannon of West Suburban Democratic Socialists of America. “Now these prosecutors don’t even want people to be able to defend themselves.”

The law also implements a higher standard on when a defendant can be detained for several crimes, including second-degree murder and arson. 

“There is a certain level of frustration I’m sure that is going to be encountered when seeing people who are a danger to the community that are going to get out as a result of this,” said Rueter.  

Lawmakers are set to return to Springfield for veto session the week after the Nov. 8 election where they could amend the measure.

“There are things in this bill that can work, but there are things in this bill that don’t work, and I don’t believe there’s any way to amend this bill to make it workable,” said State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur.

***Courtesy of the Illinois Radio Network***

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