As if Illinois didn’t have enough real scandals, the state’s political and journalist classes, Democratic and Republican — created another one out of whole cloth, and it’s a whopper.
A showdown is brewing over the Safe-T Act in Illinois, a new law designed to free thousands of its prisoners back to the streets. Democrats and Republicans are trying to strike down the legislation. One of its chief proponents, Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker, is standing by it.
There are currently about 260 inmates in the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville. Madison County State’s Attorney, Tom Haine, has claimed about half of the 260 inmates may no longer be locked up when the new law takes effect. He said that number will include dangerous criminals.
“The State of Illinois has already been subject to multiple lawsuits by Democrat state’s attorneys (over the Safe-T Act),” Haine said. “I’m seriously considering it.”
Yes, you read it right! Dangerous criminals are out thanks to the new law, SAFE-T Act.
Under the law, anyone who is arrested may be released back onto the streets based on the assumption of innocence guarantee under the United States Constitution, though criminals accused of certain crimes — like forcible felonies, stalking, and domestic abuse — will be exempt from pretrial release.
It was first proposed by the Illinois Black Caucus in response to the May 2020 killing of George Floyd and was signed into law by Gov JB Pritzker on February 22, 2021.
As a result, Illinois became the first state to completely abolish cash bail, though other states, like New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Kentucky, and California have created reforms to their bail laws over the past few years.
But ever since it was signed into law, Illinois law enforcement officials have warned that the SAFE-T Act will embolden criminals and make it harder to keep offenders off the streets, as crime rates are already spiraling out of control in Chicago.
Many people have compared it to The Purge, a movie in which the U.S. decriminalizes all crime for 24 hours. And in just one county, officials report that 400 prisoners there will be released once the law goes into effect.
Here’s what Mercer County State Attorney Grace Simpson said in a statement:
“It is of the utmost importance as a state attorney’s office that the Constitution is abided by on all levels. As the chief legal officer in Mercer County, it would be unethical to move forward with the implementation of the SAFE-T [Act] without properly raising those concerns to the court.”
More details of this report from AWM:
Despite deep criticism, Gov. Pritzker defended the SAFE-T Act, claiming that it would protect Illinois residents from the people accused of the worst crimes by holding them behind bars and not releasing them onto the streets.
“No one is getting out of jail on January 1,” the governor claimed. “That is not what the SAFE-T Act does. There is no such thing as a non-detainable defense that is not in the SAFE-T Act. The SAFE-T Act is designed to keep murderers and rapists, and domestic abusers in jail. Right now, they can buy their way out. We want to keep them in jail with a Pre-Trial Fairness Act.”
Supporters of the law say that it will help reduce incidents of racism.
Ben Ruddell, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Illinois, said: “That’s just inequitable that some people get to be free because they have money and other people have to remain incarcerated, which has all kinds of terrible consequences for people’s ability to work, for their housing, their whole families suffer.”