Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.

With three session days left, changes to the SAFE-T Act may soon be of a “technical” nature | News

Sen. Robert Peters, R-Chicago, speaks at a news conference Tuesday about the criminal justice reform SAFE-T Act, saying voters have shown that Illinoisans don’t want major changes to the law as it currently stands. effective January 1, 2023.

SPRINGFIELD — Changes may be coming to the criminal justice reform SAFE-T Act before it takes effect on Jan. 1, but some of its key supporters in the General Assembly said the results of the Nov. 8 general election mean the ship has sailed on a sweeping overhaul.

“I will say that when it came to the idea of ​​gutting, it was a bipartisan thing that was real, and I’ll admit that,” Chicago Sen. Robert Peters said at a news conference Tuesday. “But I will say that after Tuesday, the main thing is to make sure it’s technical and we can implement it in the right way.”

The SAFE-T Act is a sweeping reform enacted in January 2021. One of its last provisions to go into effect is a measure that ends cash bail, known as a preliminary injunction. Fairness Act, starting January 1.

Peters said Wednesday that defense attorneys have no desire to push that date forward.

The PFA eliminates cash as a determining factor in pretrial release, replacing it with a system that gives judges the power to detain people accused of certain crimes while they await trial.

The law governing when a judge can issue a custody order has been one of the most hotly debated in the run-up to the November election.

As written, the law creates a presumption in favor of pretrial release for lower-level offenders, including most misdemeanor and low-level nonviolent crimes, such as possession of small amounts of drugs. Officers will be instructed to release these individuals on a bond and notice to appear in court within 21 days, but will still have the power to arrest and detain a person if they believe they pose a threat to public safety. .

Advocates say the presumption is needed to avoid overcrowding the courts to give them more time to focus on pretrial detention cases involving dangerous or potentially dangerous individuals. The law also gives defendants the right to an attorney at their first court appearance.

Arrestable offenses include non-bailable violent crimes such as murder, aggravated arson and burglary; crimes involving domestic violence where the victim of the violence is a member of the family or household, or where the defendant was subject to a protective order; crimes involving weapons; and several specific sex crimes.

Individuals deemed to be “planning or attempting to intentionally evade prosecution” may also be held pending trial under the so-called “willful flight” standard if they have been charged with a felony greater than Class 4 — such as property crimes , aggravated DUI and driving on a revoked license.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, would expand the court’s authority to detain a defendant accused of any crime if the court determines that he or she poses a serious risk of missing a trial, is a danger to the community, or could threaten a potential witness or juror. .

It would also remove the language regarding the “presumption in favor of pretrial release.”

Advocates for victims of domestic violence, who helped draft the proposal, argue that these sections of the Bennett Amendment violate the law’s original intent by flooding the court system with low-level, nonviolent offenders.

Peters on Wednesday did not directly criticize Bennett’s proposal, contained in Senate Bill 4228, as “eviscerating” the PFA, but he said he disagreed with it.

However, it is unclear what changes will be made as negotiations continue.

“I mean, the idea is that we’re going to have conversations and we’re going to have negotiations,” Peters said. “I think one of the problems that’s been going on for quite some time is that more and more people have focused on trying to repeal the SAFE-T Act or kill the SAFE-T Act. And they didn’t deal in an authentic and fair way when it came to what was going to happen with this bill. But, as I said, we have an open door to talk.”

At a press conference Wednesday, new House Minority Leader Tony McCombie said repealing the SAFE-T Act remains the preferred path forward for the House.

Senate Minority Leader-elect John Curran, meanwhile, told Capitol News Illinois that his party as a whole has been “frozen” out of negotiations on the cash-bond provisions of the SAFE-T Act.

“So Democrats decided to go it alone on this two years ago,” Curran, of Downers Grove, said of the bill’s initial passage in January 2021. – And they calmed the extremes of their base. And what they got was an extreme product that has only caused division in this state over the past two years about the balance between civil liberties and public safety.”

Curran, in a previous interview with Capitol News Illinois, said he was not opposed to abolishing cash bail, but he saw several flaws in the system that would replace it, including detention standards and conflicting wording in different parts of the bill.

He would favor a model adopted in New Jersey — something Peters and others have rejected — that would give judges broader authority to delay and allow cash bail under certain circumstances.

So far, however, Curran said the discussions that are continuing in the Senate have involved three state attorneys general and members of two law enforcement groups, but not Senate Republicans.

“There’s no reason we can’t be fair and at the same time protect public safety,” Curran said. “That’s where it should eventually land. Unless they’re going to get there on their own, which they clearly aren’t, they’re going to have to bring us in at some point.”

While Peters would not comment on the joint lawsuit from about 60 state attorneys general against the SAFE-T law, Curran said he expects it will eventually be heard by the Illinois Supreme Court.

“But we have the ability as a legislature to actually take responsibility for this issue and resolve it here, so this lawsuit becomes unnecessary,” Curran said.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed in more than 400 newspapers across the state and hundreds of radio and television stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.


Related Articles

Back to top button