At the March County Board Meeting State's Attorney Dan Wright gave a presentation on the new criminal justice legislation. Among many other changes, the law eliminates cash bail and mandates body-worn cameras for all law enforcement agencies. Meeting the requirements imposed upon prosecutors by the new law to keep violent offenders detained following their arrest will require a significant increase in our budget to add additional staff and attorneys necessary to implement the new law as part of our commitment to the fair and equal administration of justice in Sangamon County.
Illinois Democrats passed sweeping legislation on a bare minimum party-line vote at the 11th hour to defund police, make it harder to charge violent criminals and make it easier for violent criminals to get out on electronic monitoring, among many other things. Several Democrats even joined Republicans in voting against the bill recognizing its dangers. Violent crime is up, police retirements are increasing, and our communities are less safe. House Republicans are sponsoring legislation that would repeal the so-called “SAFE-T Act.”
Since the law was enacted, an increase in violent crimes that include murder, expressway shootings, carjackings, assaults, armed robberies, smash & grabs and mob retail theft have proliferated.
The abolishment of cash bail was part of the omnibus criminal justice reform bill that was passed in the final hours of the lame-duck 101st General Assembly. While the new bonding system enacted within the 764-page bill is very complex, the expectation of the sponsors was that the great majority of defendants who have been arrested – including persons arrested for violent criminal offenses – will be released to back into the community while awaiting trial. House Republicans strongly opposed this change, as it will allow dangerous criminals back into our communities.
House Bill 3653 contained many controversial provisions that make extensive changes to Illinois’ criminal justice laws. The legislation abolishes cash bail, makes it more difficult for prosecutors to charge a defendant with felony murder, adds further requirements for no-knock warrants, gives judges the ability to deviate from mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, makes changes to the “three strikes” law, and decreases mandatory supervised release terms, among other changes.
One of the most controversial aspects of HB 3653 was the numerous changes and additional requirements it places on Illinois’ law enforcement officers. The legislation mandates body cams be worn by all officers, creates a new felony offence of law enforcement misconduct, creates an anonymous complaint policy, and makes changes to use of force in making arrest, duty to render aid and duty to intervene. The bill makes significant changes to the law enforcement officer certification and decertification process, including the creation of a new Law Enforcement Certification Review Panel.
The new SAFE-T Act has made Illinois a less safe place to live for just about everyone. Something needs to be done to address violent crime in Illinois, but it is clear rushing legislation through the General Assembly was not the right solution.
House Republicans have filed legislation to repeal the dangerous SAFE-T Act and have established a petition to get your input. If you agree we need to repeal the SAFE-T Act, please sign the petition at ilhousegop.org/repeal.