Pritzker: ‘SAFE-T Act is to keep our neighborhoods safe,’ needs changed

(The Center Square) – While pointing fingers across the aisle, both sides of the debate about the SAFE-T Act say changes are needed to keep violent criminals awaiting trial behind bars.

Elements of the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity Today Act, or SAFE-T Act, goes into effect on Jan. 1, eliminating cash bail in Illinois. That will make Illinois the first and only state in the country to do so.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau recently spoke with Fox News and said several provisions in the measure would increase crime in the state.

“The most dangerous one right out of the gate is the no cash bail, essentially saying that judges have two options. They can either hold someone indefinitely or not hold someone,” Pekau said. “They can only hold people now for like seven different offenses.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who signed the act in 2021, was campaigning in Lake County this week. When asked about the controversy around the measure, Pritzker said there needs to be changes to clear up what he calls misinformation regarding the measure.

“So let us amend the act to make it very explicit,” Pritzker said. “That violent criminals that are in jail awaiting trial, that Jan. 1 is not some deadline to let people out.”

Lawmakers are set to return to the capitol the week after the election for veto session where they could amend the measure before it takes effect in the new year. 

Pekau said crime could increase in homes and on the streets due to language in the bill.

“I believe this is very dangerous, I do not think we know what is coming from this, but I think we can project,” Pekau said. “If criminals are allowed to run free, and police cannot protect citizens, then citizens are going to start protecting themselves.”

Pritzker said the SAFE-T Act intends to do the opposite of what he said Republicans claim it will do.

“One of the purposes of the SAFE-T Act is to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Pritzker said. “It is to make sure that people who are awaiting trial and are non-violent, who may have committed a low-level offense, do not sit in jail because they do not have a few hundred dollars.”

The act has been one of the main talking points among candidates in this election cycle and has led to more than 50 Illinois counties to file lawsuits claiming the Act is unconstitutional.

Pritzker faces Republican Darren Bailey in the gubernatorial election. Pekau faces Sean Casten for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District. The election is Nov. 8. 


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October 27, 2022 at 05:27PM

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