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SAFE-T Act news coverage roundup

Wednesday, Oct 12, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* A SAFE-T Act question asked at the Crain’s endorsement session with Gov. Pritzker

Q: I want to pin you down on this business about you can’t, you’re not even allowed to look at somebody’s history in terms of whether they actually show up when they’re supposed to be at a court hearing. … You’re not allowed to look at that when determining whether they’re a flight risk…

From the statute

(Text of Section after amendment by P.A. 101-652)
Sec. 110-5. Determining the amount of bail and conditions of release.
(a) In determining which conditions of pretrial release, if any, will reasonably assure the appearance of a defendant as required or the safety of any other person or the community and the likelihood of compliance by the defendant with all the conditions of pretrial release, the court shall, on the basis of available information, take into account such matters as: […]

(3) the history and characteristics of the eligible defendant, including:

    (A) the eligible defendant’s character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past relating to drug or alcohol abuse, conduct, history criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings;

According to the Illinois Supreme Court Pretrial Implementation Task Force, “The [Pre-Trial Fairness Act] did not make any substantive changes to this section.”

…Adding… But there is this part of the statute that the questioner was trying to get at

“Willful flight” means planning or attempting to intentionally evade prosecution by concealing oneself. Simple past non-appearance in court alone is not evidence of future intent to evade prosecution.

* More state’s attorneys and sheriffs are suing over the SAFE-T Act. WICS

This time it is Douglas County State’s Attorney Kate Watson and Douglas County Sheriff Nathan Chaplin. […]

In their statement, they argue that the lawsuit seeks injunctive relief based upon the act violating the Illinois Constitution; violating the single-subject law; violating the separation of powers; being unconstitutionally vague, and violating the three-readings requirement.

“Risk to innocent civilians would no longer be a reason for a judge to detain someone who’s charged for the first time offense of kidnapping, or for the first time offense of burglary; even second degree murder, arson,” said Watson.

“It is my sworn duty as Douglas County Sheriff to protect the people of Douglas County,“ said Chaplin. “Criminal justice reform should not be at the expense of public safety. The SAFE T Act was forced through at the 11th hour in a lame duck session (in January 2021). Police and prosecutors were excluded from any type of negotiations. They forced this thing through and now we’re left with the fallout.”


Several state’s attorneys in Illinois have filed lawsuits against the controversial SAFE-T Act, Including those in Mercer, Knox and Jo Daviess Counties. […]

Jo Daviess County State’s Attorney Chris Allendorf said cash bail is ingrained in the Illinois Constitution. […]

On the federal level, Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy Karlin said it could violate the 14th Amendment. […]

Meanwhile, Karlin agrees that cash bail should be eliminated, but he disagrees with the SAFE-T Act’s implementation. He said the way it is currently written, it restricts his office’s ability to get defendants treatment prior to their trial.

* Channel 20

Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright and Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell are filing a lawsuit over the SAFE-T Act.

The two are suing over the elimination of cash bail, also known as the Pre-Trial Fairness Act.

The lawsuit names Governor JB Pritzker, House Speaker Chris Welch, and Senate President Don Harmon as defendants.

“Litigation of good faith constitutional questions raised by the Act as written, while absolutely necessary to support and defend the Illinois Constitution, does not indicate categorical rebuke of criminal justice reform and many of the public policy objectives underlying the Act,” Wright wrote in a release. “To the contrary, as I have previously stated, the Act includes many provisions that will bring positive reform. The need for meaningful legislative changes to achieve a responsible balance between the rights of criminal defendants and the safety of law-abiding citizens should not continue to be an entrenched “us vs. them” issue hijacked by social media hysteria and election season posturing. Getting criminal justice reform right for all citizens of Illinois is too important to allow our public discourse to devolve into hyperbole divorced from the plain language of the Act, our Constitution, and common sense.”


Add Tazewell County’s top prosecutor and sheriff to a growing list of law enforcement officials around Illinois suing to block full implementation and ultimately overturn a criminal justice reform bill signed into law nearly two years ago.

Tazewell County State’s Attorney Kevin Johnson and Sheriff Jeff Lower filed suit Wednesday in Tazewell County Circuit Court arguing the law is unconstitutional on several levels. They’re also seeking a preliminary injunction on the law’s implementation pending an outcome in the suit.

The two officials are Republicans. They are suing Gov. JB Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, House Speaker Chris Welch, and Senate President Don Harmon - all Democrats. […]

Johnson and Lower argue the law will lead to increased staff workloads, delays in court cases, and make it harder to compel a defendant’s appearance in court.


McLean County State’s Attorney Erika Reynolds and Sheriff Jon Sandage are the latest law enforcement officials to go to court in an effort to stop a major criminal justice reform bill from being implemented next year.

They filed a lawsuit in McLean County civil court asks the court to declare the SAFE-T Act unconstitutional. […]

Reynolds and Sandage, both Republicans, said law enforcement officials want to help negotiate changes to the measure they claim will threaten public safety.

They argue a judge’s ability to hold a defendant based on a “high likelihood of willful flight” for an array of violent offenses is too narrowly defined under the law, and makes it unlikely those defendants would be detained. They cite aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated drunk driving, concealment of a death and certain hate crimes as examples of offenses in which a state’s attorney could not petition the court to hold the defendant in custody prior to trial.


WGN News invited two top prosecutors who belong to the same political party but have vastly different views of the SAFE-T Act for a discussion. Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser and Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart joined the WGN Evening News Tuesday.


In the regular [Peoria] city meeting, there was a presentation on the SAFE-T Act to offer clarity for council members about the act. Some council members had questions about how the SAFE-T Act will affect the operation of the Peoria Police Department. Chief Eric Echevarria said he believes major changes will impact state’s attorneys as opposed to local law enforcement.

“Quite frankly, this doesn’t change how we’re procedurally going to do our job. We are going to continue to follow the law. We’re going to continue to make the arrests we need to make,” said Echevarria.

* The Daily Herald

Republican candidate Paul Santucci and Democratic state Sen. Linda Holmes, who are running for the 42nd state Senate District seat, agree the controversial SAFE-T Act criminal-justice reform law needs fixing. […]

“Quite frankly, it is a complicated piece of legislation,” Holmes said. There are aspects of it police and prosecutors support, she added, such as the body cameras and the idea that people accused of violent crimes should not be able to be freed pretrial just because they can afford to post bond.

“If I was in office I would have voted ‘no,’” Santucci said. “I feel that the form it is in now needs to be repealed.” But, he added, there were parts of it he does support, including provisions addressing police abuse of power.

“I would not say, ‘All of it is garbage and must go,’ but there are issues that must be addressed before we are comfortable with the law,” Santucci said.

* Related…

* BND: No, the jail doors won’t open Jan. 1. Here’s what to know about end of cash bail in IL


  1. - NotRich - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 1:32 pm:


  2. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 1:51 pm:

    Dear Gov. Pritzker: why does this controv remind me of your quest for in the income tax change? good idea, badly explained. lost. remember, that one was when you were not on the ballot. this time, you are. start getting specific. on changes and clarifications on the blatant skewing of things in the bill from reflexive opponents. now. for a reputable source that thinks both sides have bad points on this issue, I suggest consulting on Twitter Cook County ASA. that person says that both sides are wrong on things. fix your argument.

  3. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 1:58 pm:

    –It is my sworn duty as Douglas County Sheriff to protect the people of Douglas County–

    No it is not.

    DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services established at the Supreme Court that the police have no legal obligation or duty to protect the public.

    The police are trying to protect themselves. That’s all they have ever done, and they are getting mad and throwing a tantrum that their business as usual might soon be coming to an end.

  4. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 2:01 pm:

    “badly explained.”

    I don’t think it is badly explained. There are a lot of people that just don’t want to understand or misconstrue the facts to further an agenda. I’m a simple man, and I understand.

  5. - Norseman - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 2:08 pm:

    Laughable lawsuit that throws all the fertilizer at the fan and see what sticks.

    === violating the single-subject law; ===

    The title of the bill as introduced was: AN ACT concerning criminal law.

    The title of the enrolled bill was: AN ACT concerning criminal law.

    Good luck with that single-subject argument. The General Assembly has been loose with that for decades and the courts have been deferential. (Look up enrolled bill rule.)

    === violating the separation of powers; ===

    LOL. Seriously, are they really going there. The General Assembly. Even in Jr. High we learned that the legislature passes the laws and the courts adjudicate based those laws.

    === … unconstitutionally vague, … ===

    This argument is ridiculously vague.

    === … violating the three-readings requirement. ===

    LOL again. This law was a Senate Amendment to a House Bill. The bill clearly met the three-readings requirement. They can’t be so ignorant on legislative procedures to argue that an amendment in the 2nd chamber has to go through three separate day readings. This has been done since the first days of General Assembly convening after the new constitution.

    The people who are arguing this are our States Attorneys. Scary isn’t it.

  6. - Responsa - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 2:23 pm:

    I agree with Amalia’s take above. It is not, but if Safe-T Act were being voted on directly by Illinois citizens (as was the Fair Tax) I believe it would also go down in flaming defeat. Just like the Fair Tax fiasco the Safe-T Act is obviously *not* a partisan issue, either. It needs to be fixed.

  7. - H-W - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 2:31 pm:

    = Simple past non-appearance in court alone is not evidence of future intent to evade prosecution. =

    I agree with this clause. At least here in Forgottonia, lots of people (mostly college students) miss a court appearance out of forgetfulness.

    These suspects are different from people who may in fact be flight risks.

  8. - H-W - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 2:34 pm:

    Serious question. What are the likelihoods that any of these cases will be successful? I assume at some point they will be consolidated.

  9. - Magic Dragon - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 2:58 pm:

    ==I don’t think it is badly explained. There are a lot of people that just don’t want to understand or misconstrue the facts to further an agenda. I’m a simple man, and I understand.==

    Or perhaps it is just a bad statute that needs to be addressed.

  10. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 3:08 pm:

    –What are the likelihoods that any of these cases will be successful?–

    This depends on where you define success.

    In the courts, or in public opinion?

    Was Devore successful in filing all his ‘I hate modern medicine’ cases? From a legal standpoint, he was not. From other perspectives, like his personal interests, he certainly succeeded.

    Not a single States Attorney filed any cases in the *years* the law has been on the books. Only within months of it becoming law, and right before the election this year, did these AGs suddenly all start filing en masse.

    Glasgow in Will county, for example, didn’t file for any emergency injunction or relief in the courts to match his public rhetoric of “end of days”. If he was so concerned about such an existential threat, wouldn’t it be problematic that his next court appearance for his own lawsuit doesn’t take place until well into next year and long after the law goes into effect. I’m not talking about the conclusion of his case, I’m talking about the next step that takes place after he filed the case.

  11. - Joe Schmoe - Wednesday, Oct 12, 22 @ 7:33 pm:

    I’m going to guess that many of our contrary friends ought to be worried more about the court of public opinion on this issue..

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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