Illinois Releases Hundreds of Violent Criminals, Abolishes Cash Bail
A new criminal justice reform law in Illinois will facilitate the release of roughly 400 criminal defendants beginning January 1st, 2023.
Ironically abbreviated “SAFE-T,” the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act eradicates cash bail for suspects charged with felonies including:
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated DUI
- Aggravated Fleeing
- Drug-induced homicide
- Second-degree murder
The goal of this backwards law is to avoid detaining certain criminal offenders who can’t afford bail as they wait for their court date. It is the first law in US history to eliminate cash bail across an entire state.
“Anyone sitting in jail right now with all these pending charges, they’re going to be let out,” warns Sheriff Peter Sopczak of Johnson County, IL. “The gates are open and they’re going to be let out onto the streets.”
The new policy is just a small part of a 611-page police reform package introduced by the state’s Legislative Black Caucus in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. It was signed into law in February by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D), who claimed it would ‘transform the pretrial detention system so low-income people aren’t thrown behind bars while only the wealthy walk free, divert low-level drug crimes into substance-treatment programs, and reduce excessive stays in prison.”
Proponents view cash bail as “institutionalized racism” and argue it is unfair that some criminals are detained while others walk free. What these people are failing to acknowledge here is the fact that a crime is a crime, and the severity of the crime determines what bail is required.
“Even though aggravated battery is a violent offense that is a forcible felony, a person can get probation for it,” laments Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz. “It’s not a detainable offense under the new statue.”
Suspects charged with the crimes listed above will only be detained if the prosecution can prove that a suspect represents a threat to a specific person or demonstrates a high likelihood of flight. Exceptions include “forcible felonies” such as treason, aggravated criminal sexual assault, first-degree murder, and aggravated battery resulting in permanent disfigurement.
“Imagine the defendant who murdered his wife, to whom he no longer poses a threat, being released because of this ridiculously limited legal standard,” argues Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley.
SAFE-T also prevents police from arresting people for misdemeanors including trespassing and prevents judges from issuing a warrant for a defendant’s failure to appear in court until such a failure has occurred twice.
As a whole, Republicans and law enforcement oppose the law and argue it will lead to an increase in crime. Illinois gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, a Republican, has sworn to repeal the law if he is elected this year.