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Winnebago County state’s attorney regrets past remarks, says SAFE-T Act “more of a collection issue”

Friday, Dec 2, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley (R) in a September Rockford Register-Star op-ed

On Jan. 1, 2023, it is estimated that more than half of the inmates in the Winnebago County Jail will walk out the door. Approximately 400 criminal defendants will be released back into our community because our Illinois legislators passed the “SAFE-T Act” back in 2020. […]

Let’s hope that action can be taken during the post-election “veto session” in early December. Please call your legislators and advocate for such action — but don’t call me — or the sheriff.

We aren’t responsible for letting over half the jail population walk out the door on Jan. 1.

* Earlier this week, before the SAFE-T Act revisions were passed

[Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley] wrote an op-ed in September stating that beginning January 1, “about 400 criminal defendants will be released back into our community.”

Hanley said both parties have delved into misinformation and acknowledged his role.

“I regrettably probably contributed to this in a way that I do regret,” Hanley said. “It’s not going to be a purge.”

And then he talked about the money aspect

[Hanley] said counties throughout the state will face hard times financially with the loss of cash bond.

“If I’m arrested for a crime, I post my $5,000, I end up pleading guilty, and let’s say I get probation, my fines and costs might equal $3,000,” Hanley said. “That’s taken from the bond that I posted. And so, it’s almost more of a collection issue.”

       

35 Comments
  1. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:00 am:

    Lock’em up so I don’t have to go to small claims court!

    Sheesh


  2. - Demoralized - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:00 am:

    So we need to keep cash bail because it’s a money maker? That’s not a good enough reason.


  3. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:01 am:

    Lock’em up so I don’t have to go to small claims court?

    Sheesh

    (amended to address punctuation problems)


  4. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:08 am:

    ” … it’s almost more of a collection issue.”

    And the truth emerges.


  5. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:09 am:

    - And so, it’s almost more of a collection issue. -

    Lady justice couldn’t have said it any better. Good to know the citizens of Winnebago County have a true public servant looking after them.


  6. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:10 am:

    So I am glad he regrets what he said. Did he go into why he decided to say it?


  7. - H-W - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:11 am:

    At least Hanley acknowledged his role in spreading inflammatory, politically-driven rhetoric. That in itself is remarkable, and praiseworthy.

    As to the “collections” issue, if people cannot afford bail, then we can expect they will struggle to pay court costs going forward, if found guilty. In the absence of bail/bonds businesses, we can assume that the courts will have to discern what a reasonable fine looks like for poor people.

    We should anticipate needing to find new funding sources for everything that is currently funded through the criminal justice system. That is not a problem - it is a moral issue.


  8. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:13 am:

    Yeah, anytime there’s such a hue and cry five will get you ten it’s about money.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:13 am:

    ===Hanley said both parties have delved into misinformation and acknowledged his role.

    “I regrettably probably contributed to this in a way that I do regret,” Hanley said. “It’s not going to be a purge.”===

    Admitting dishonesty, but framed as “both sides” to tamp down the harsh reality isn’t helpful in rehabilitating the admitted dishonesty.

    “We all misled”

    Hmm.


  10. - CentralILCentrist - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:15 am:

    Say it louder for those in the back.
    I’ve parroted this in conversations with many parties. It’s going to shift the financial balance sheet of many counties, especially south of I-80. I could go on how this will work out disastrously for many who have sat and pouted for months instead of game-plan for how to work with the new rules. Armchair policy-making aside, both parties will feel this wrath in approximately 6-12 months in every county seat.


  11. - twowaystreet - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:15 am:

    I hope his learned his lesson about crying wolf.


  12. - Give Us Barabbas - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:26 am:

    Ok now let’s talk about the abuses of asset forfeiture as a for-profit business arm of law enforcement.


  13. - Bigtwich - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:26 am:

    -It’s going to shift the financial balance sheet of many counties-

    True. They will not be spending near as much money on jails.


  14. - H-W - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:27 am:

    = Admitting dishonesty, but framed as “both sides” =

    Good point, OW.


  15. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:29 am:

    Collection issue… sounds like debtors prison to me.


  16. - The Opinions Bureau - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:34 am:

    “both parties will feel this wrath in approximately 6-12 months in every county seat.”

    No, there are counties run by professionals who have been working for two years to follow the law. You know, the ones where most of the people live.


  17. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:35 am:

    I’ve parroted this in conversations with many parties. It’s going to shift the financial balance sheet of many counties, especially south of I-80

    I will say this in a reasonable voice that all can hear.

    If your budget is based on the payment of criminal fines, you need to take a look at your budget. Suppose people stopped speeding tomorrow, stopped hitting other people tomorrow, and stopped selling illegal drugs to each other. In that case, it should be a reason to be happy, not ponder the budget implications. Fundamentally, using fines and penalties to make budgets “work” creates the wrong incentives for the government.

    I need to use the money you had to put up to be free before your trial to pay your fine from the trial, so I can keep the lights on is screwed up.


  18. - Big Dipper - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:38 am:

    The both sides nonsense has echoes of Charlottesville. What hysteria was put forth by proponents of the law?


  19. - Paddyrollingstone - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:39 am:

    I initially misread the headline as “more of an ELECTION issue,” rather than “collection.” In this case, both would work.


  20. - Amalia - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:40 am:

    Transparency in funding services is needed. If they need the bail money to fund operations, say that. But find a more consistent way to fund needed services. this kind of commentary fuels the idea that arrests happen simply to pay salaries. Map the crime in your community. Arrests happen because of crime.


  21. - Big Dipper - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:46 am:

    ==I initially misread the headline as “more of an ELECTION issue,” ==

    Yup sorta like Bailey and DeVore talking about Marc Smith be repeatedly held in contempt and demanding his firing and we now know that was reversible error by the judge.


  22. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:00 am:

    I will always have more respect for someone like Mr. Haney who admits a mistake and corrects themselves - albeit still with some back-handed attempts to blame ‘both sides’, than someone who doesn’t accept any responsibility for what they have been doing and using the authority of their office to do it. *cough* Jim Glasgow *cough*.


  23. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:01 am:

    Correction: That should be Mr. Hanley, not my typo of Mr. Haney.


  24. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:10 am:

    === Admitting dishonesty, but framed as “both sides” to tamp down the harsh reality isn’t helpful in rehabilitating the admitted dishonesty. ===

    Home run comment by OW. I totally agree.

    Besides playing base political games with the subject, we now here the sleazy underlying reason for the SA’s dissembling.


  25. - Former Hanley constituent - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:13 am:

    Had a Democrat not just won countywide, would have have said that? It’s great that he corrected himself, but is that because of his worries about whether he will be re-elected in 2024?


  26. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:25 am:

    =- Give Us Barabbas - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 10:26 am:

    Ok now let’s talk about the abuses of asset forfeiture as a for-profit business arm of law enforcement.=

    100% this - It’s a big thing that needs to be addressed. I personally know of more innocent people impacted by it than cash bail.

    And if its about collections and the money raised - the law and order side of the isle I’m sure will be ready to step up and raise taxes for public safety and chip in their fair share.

    Because it would appear that the “policed class” sure seems to be paying way more to fund their own imprisonment and policing than the other side is paying for their own safety.


  27. - Arsenal - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:28 am:

    It’s been a lot of fun watching these LEOs climb down from the “Life is a Mad Max movie and you’re about to die” position now that they lost the election.


  28. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:37 am:

    He’s 1/2 way to the truth. He neglected to mention the importance of keeping poor folks locked up until they sign a plea deal for “time served.” This has made the SA’s job easier than having to go to trial and prosecute someone using evidence and testimony. (And, it’s a financial issue because there may need to be more folks in the SA and public defender’s offices if more cases go to trial.)


  29. - froganon - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:37 am:

    Local property taxes pay for policing services. We get what we pay for. Wringing law enforcement costs out of poor people via bail destroys lives/families and communities. Too bad the Fair Tax failed. Taxing billionaires could have relieved pressure on the property tax. Uihline and Griffin thank all of he No voters for their servitude.


  30. - Demoralized - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:54 am:

    ==Wringing law enforcement costs out of poor people via bail==

    But they aren’t. Those people sit in jail and apparently he’s ok with them sitting in jail so long as those that can afford it continue to be a revenue stream. It’s sickening when money becomes more important than justice.


  31. - CentralILCentrist - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:32 pm:

    -> TOB and OneMan
    I totally concur. I believe the sprit and intent as well as the soon-to-come ramifications of this are far too late. I didn’t want to belabor a paragraph about all my feelings and observations.
    The law is good, amendments shore up the legit concerns, and central/southern counties will need to follow-suit on figuring out how to hold the “guilty” accountable with more fair and equitable means.


  32. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:34 pm:

    Poor is an exploitation…in itself.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:57 pm:

    (Tips cap to - H-W - and - Norseman -)

    That was good stuff - OneMan -

    ===Fundamentally, using fines and penalties to make budgets “work” creates the wrong incentives for the government.===

    Center cut filet.


  34. - Nick Nombre - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 1:09 pm:

    Did he just say the quiet part out loud?


  35. - Paddyrollingstone - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 1:49 pm:

    Have a case in a downstate county (won’t say which one) in which my out of state client posted a fairly large bond. Was told that the State wanted an answer on a plea before the new year. Why? Because they didn’t want to have to give the money back.


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