From The Center Square:
After changes to SAFE-T Act, law enforcement agencies have weeks to ‘reset’
(The Center Square) – Members of Illinois’ law enforcement community are having to reset with less than a month to go before for the implementation of a law that would eliminate cash bail statewide.
State lawmakers approved changes to the SAFE-T Act Thursday before leaving for the rest of the calendar year. Changes include a list of serious crimes that defendants can be held on before trial.
During debate, Republicans pointed out problems they say remain. State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, said the whole thing has been flawed from the beginning.
“I’m going to give you a little prediction about how it’s gonna go from here. You pass bad policy. We point it out. You call us fear mongers. Now, people are on to you and you say ‘oh … we better fix that,” Anderson said.
Democrats said passing amendments to laws is what legislators do. Supporters of ending cash bail say people are innocent until proven guilty and shouldn’t have to languish behind bars because they can’t afford bail.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has yet to sign the changes into law.
“I’m pleased that the General Assembly has upheld the principles we fought to protect, including bringing an end to a system where those charged with violent offenses can buy their way out of jail, while others who are poor and charged with nonviolent offenses wait in jail for trial,” Pritzker said in a statement.
As of Friday, the amendments had not been advanced to the governor’s desk. Regardless, no cash bail without the amendments begins Jan. 1.
Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk said law enforcement were already gearing up for the Pretrial Fairness Act before the changes lawmakers approved.
“And now there’s going to be kind of a reboot on that to see how these changes affect the different policies and practices that we were going to put in place in January,” Kaitschuk told The Center Square.
Adding to the pressures in the final weeks of the year is a lawsuit dozens of state’s attorneys and sheriffs have against the law’s implementation to be heard next week in Kankakee County.