ISU students, professors express mixed feelings about the SAFE-T Act

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“The new Gotham City.” Just one of the names given to Illinois after the SAFE-T Act took the internet by storm with the abolishment of cash bails.

The SAFE-T Act raised questions after the house bill eliminated cash bail on misdemeanors, traffic offenses and petty offenses starting Jan. 1, 2023. The offender of these crimes can also be released if the judge sees fit in a new and more extensive pretrial.

The new style of hearings replaces the old system where an offender was given a cash bail amount to be released from custody. The offender would have to stay in custody until final trial if they could not post bail according to the present law.

The new style of pre-trial does away with cash bails and instead creates a hearing where the defendant can hire legal representation and prove that they are not a threat to the community. If the defendant wins the hearing, the defendant is released from custody and receives no penalty.

Dr. Ashley Farmer, associate professor of criminal justice sciences at Illinois State University, explained the reason for this change is to support low-income offenders who cannot post bail.

“Anyone who is arrested and held in pre-trial detention has not yet been convicted of a crime,” Farmer said. “This is just one effect the bill will have on our justice system attempting to create a more equitable pre-trial system.”

The act still created concern among some ISU students because some said it offers too many rights to criminals and could lead to dangerous living conditions. Sophomore finance major Gia Berekashvili said he had doubts regarding the bill.

“It just seems like criminals have it easy now and that scares me,” Berekashvili said. “If you do the crime, you should do the time. There’s no way around that.”

Senior journalism major Brooke VaBales said the bill is just enabling criminals to keep committing crimes.

“It seems like a good thing in theory, but the justice system has failed more times than once,” VaBales said. “This will just let dangerous people right back on the streets.”

Police in Illinois will also see changes to their code of conduct as the law adds stricter guidelines and harder penalties to officers who break conduct.

The SAFE-T Act has led state attorneys to battle for changes to the law and are trying for a full repeal of the bill before its potential passing later this year.

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October 19, 2022 at 11:52AM

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