House candidates in south, southwest suburbs differ on benefits, drawbacks of SAFE-T law

https://ift.tt/qDvAsRS

On one of the most politically and emotionally charged issues of the campaign, candidates for House districts in the south and southwest suburbs have mixed views on whether the aspirations of a sweeping criminal justice reform law will meet reality.

Some candidates say the law has provisions that will do more to keep alleged violent suspects locked up pending trial, while others see it as potentially boosting crime rates.

The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today law is intended, supporters argue, to promote greater police accountability and pave the way for a more equitable court system.

Proponents say elimination of cash bail addresses a long-standing problem that keeps poorer defendants, primarily people of color, locked up while awaiting trial because they don’t have the means to post bond.

Starting Jan. 1, judges will weigh several factors, including the threat a defendant poses to the public, in deciding which defendants should remain in custody pending trial.

State’s attorneys in Kankakee and Will counties have filed lawsuits, contending Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other top state Democrats violated the state constitution in pushing through the SAFE-T Act, which Pritzker signed into law in February 2021.

Changes to the law could be considered by the General Assembly when it convenes for the fall veto session Nov. 15, after the Nov. 8 General Election.

Several candidates responded to questions about the law sent by the Daily Southtown. Not all candidates returned completed questionnaires.

Republican candidate Patricia Bonk said the law in its current form “makes law enforcement less effective and jeopardizes our safety.”

Democrat Fran Hurley, whose 35th District is home to many Chicago police officers, said she voted against the legislation. She said she had spoken with officials throughout law enforcement who raised concerns.

Hurley said the law is in need of many alterations, and said she is “working with law enforcement, legislators and community stakeholders to enact those changes.”

State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, a Democrat, said he also voted against the legislation after “multiple discussions with law enforcement and other concerned groups.”

“While law enforcement supports many aspects within the Safe-T Act, there are areas of strong disagreement, and negotiations must continue,” DeLuca wrote in his response.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Nicholas “Nick” Smith said he believes the law, rather than being more lenient toward suspected criminals, will instead give “judges more power to hold offenders in jail because it is based on risk to the public, not simply the defendant’s access to money.”

Republican challenger Beth O’Neil said she fears the potential for more repeat offenders under the altered bail system.

“They do not show back up for court and are released to the streets to do more crime,” O’Neil said.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Jackie Haas said enactment of the law “will have a dangerous effect in all Illinois communities.”

“We should restore judicial discretion and not handcuff our police and judges to keep residents safe,” Haas wrote.

Erin Slone, a Democrat challenging Haas, said the law “gives judges more power to hold dangerous offenders in jail because they’ll be making decisions based on a public safety assessment.”

“We need to build a justice system that works for everyone, regardless of their race, wealth, or gender. We need reforms that target these inequities in the system,” Slone said.

Candidates are using different measuring sticks on how to gauge whether the new law is effective.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin said she would propose creating a task force “designed specifically to monitor and track the success or failure and effectiveness of the goals of this legislation and report back to the governor and the General Assembly,” she wrote.

Tom Toolis, Meyers-Martin’s Republican challenger, said if elected he would work to overturn the SAFE-T Act, but that changes in crime rates “is the perfect standard” for determining whether the law works.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Mary Flowers said the law and enforcement of it is likely to be an evolving process.

“We should continue to engage in a dialogue with survivors’ advocates, law enforcement, and other stakeholders to consider ways to make the system smarter and more equitable, and make communities safer,” she wrote.

Slone said any data and reports regarding the SAFE-T Act gathered over the next year will help determine the law’s effectiveness but, like Flowers, said the law could and should be open to alterations.

“I support continued discussion among law enforcement, victims’ rights groups and advocates about potential modifications to the law,” Slone said.

Republicans Quintin Barton, Jeffrey Coleman, Herbert Hebein, Al Kuypers, David Sheppard, Frederick Walls and Kenneth Yerkes did not respond to the Southtown questionnaire.

Democratic incumbents Kelly Burke, William Davis, Marcus Evans, Thaddeus Jones and Justin Slaughter also did not respond to the questions.

Residents can learn which legislative district they are in, along with their voter registration status and polling place, at the following links.

For suburban Cook County: www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/your-voter-information

For Will County: www.willcountyclerk.gov/elections/voter-services/#myinfo

For city of Chicago: chicagoelections.gov/en/your-voter-information.html

27th District

Democrat: Rep. Justin Slaughter

Republican: Beth O’Neil

29th District

Democrat: Rep. Thaddeus Jones

Republican: Jeffery Coleman

30th District

Democrat: Rep. William “Will” Davis

Republican: Patricia Bonk

31st District

Democrat: Rep. Mary E. Flowers

Republican: Kenneth Yerkes

33rd District

Democrat: Rep. Marcus C. Evans Jr.

Republican: Quintin Barton

34th District

Democrat: Rep. Nicholas “Nick” Smith

Republican: Frederick Walls

35th District

Democrat: Rep. Frances Ann Hurley

Republican: Herbert Hebein

36th District

Democrat: Rep. Kelly M. Burke

Republican: David Sheppard

38th District

Democrat: Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin

Daily Southtown

Twice-weekly


News updates from the south suburbs delivered every Monday and Wednesday

Republican: Tom Toolis

79th District

Democrat: Erin Slone

Republican: Jackie Haas

80th District

Democrat: Rep. Anthony DeLuca

Republican: Al Kuypers Sr.

Ino Saves New

via rk2’s favorite articles on Inoreader https://ift.tt/Gx5skXP

October 30, 2022 at 09:10AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s