Clearing the air amid confusion about the Illinois Safe-T Act

CHICAGO (CBS) — By now, you’ve probably heard about the Safe-T Act – a new law coming in January – but there is a lot of confusion.

CBS 2’s Jermont Terry talked to two people with differing perspectives about how they read the controversial bill.

The question of whether there is a simple misunderstanding, or a deliberate misinformation of the law’s intent and purpose. Social media is leaving people perplexed, and we are trying to clear the air.

The Safe-T Act has left so many confused as to when someone will actually step before a judge – and whether they will stay locked up or get out from behind bars.

Conservatives don’t like the legislation.

"They need to fix it," said Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General Thomas Devore.

It is also consuming attorneys.

"People are freaking out," said former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Tamara Walker. "This thing is all over social media."

At issue in the 700-page laws is the abolition of cash bail mandates for criminal defendants.

"Bond should never be so high people can’t afford it and that’s the only reason they’re in jail," said Devore.

Yet Devore believes the law going into effect Jan. 1 takes bonds completely off the table – giving those who have been arrested the upper hand.

"They’re going to get a get-out-of-jail-free card," Devore said. "Once they’re arrested, if they can’t be detained, they’re going to be let out – and once they’re let out, there’s no incentive to come back."

But Walker countered, "There is no automatic get-of-jail-free-card."

Walker said she is not approaching the issue from a political standpoint.

"I am not a political proponent," she said. "I am a simply a member of the criminal just system."

Walker said no cash bail will not leave violent offenders with a pat on the back.

"The judge is going to look at the totally of circumstances, just like they do now. The totality of the circumstances in bond review is this – does the person pose a flight risk? Is this person a danger to people and/or the community?" she said. "Judges will still evaluate on those grounds."

There has been a lot of talk of this law being a "purge" for those sitting in jail unable to pay cash bonds.

"For those currently in jail that cannot post bail – if they are in jail that cannot be detained for, they’re going to let them go," Devore said.

Walker said: "There is absolutely a process. Now, let me very clear – there may be an opportunity bond to be reviewed if the offense should be modified from being a cash bond into a monitoring situation."

One thing two sides can agree on is that the law has become politicized.

"The timing issue is at least for next six to eight weeks, people are kind of paying attention what’s going on with our government," Devore said.

"It’s been a lot of propaganda and very little truth," said Walker.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the recent negative rhetoric that has been circulating about the Safe-T Act is designed to incite fear for political gain.

Meanwhile, the Kankakee and Will County state’s attorneys have filed lawsuits Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, claiming the law is unconstitutional.

Region: Chicago,Politics,City: Chicago

via Politics – CBS Chicago

September 16, 2022 at 11:34PM

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