Controversial SAFE-T Act undergoes changes, but public safety concerns remain

In the final week of the annual fall veto session, legislators took up an amendment to House Bill 1095, which made some changes to the controversial SAFE-T Act.

The SAFE-T Act is a major criminal justice rewrite that was passed, despite bipartisan opposition, in a late-night lame-duck session on January 13, 2021. Since its passage, Senate Republicans joined state’s attorneys and law enforcement personnel from across Illinois to sound the alarm on how the law threatens the safety of their communities.

One of the more controversial provisions includes the elimination of cash bail, which is set to take effect statewide beginning January 1, 2023.

Despite the changes approved by the General Assembly last week, which include expanding the types of offenses that are eligible for pre-trial detention, Senate Republicans said the bill still does not go near far enough to fix the many concerns found in the law.

State Senator Sue Rezin noted, among other concerns, that judges still won’t have the broad discretion they need to be able to hold certain dangerous people in jail ahead of their trial. Additionally, the changes found in House Bill 1095 still don’t address the millions of dollars this law will cost local governments and police departments.

House Bill 1095 was approved by a strictly partisan vote and is now awaiting the Governor’s action.

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