After Election, Attention Turns to SAFE-T Act. Here’s What Pritzker Said is Next

The SAFE-T act may not have been on the ballot during the 2022 Midterm Election, but it played a big role. Now that Election Day is over in Illinois, attention is turning to the new law set to take effect early next year, but what exactly it will look like by then remains unclear.

Facing mounting criticism from a variety of groups and officials over provisions of the “SAFE-T Act” that will ban cash bail in the state beginning on Jan. 1, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said changes could soon be in store.

“There’s a lot of work that’s been done by the General Assembly over the last number of months and working groups,” he told reporters Wednesday, one day after securing his second term in office. “And so they’re going to bring that to the veto session and I’ll be watching carefully. I’ve made my thoughts clear. And we’ll see if we can get something done during the veto session to address the changes that we ought to be making.”

The act, which will require judges to determine whether individuals accused of violent crimes and felonies pose a flight risk or a risk to the safety of the public when determining whether they should be incarcerated before trial, is set to go into effect Jan. 1, and has drawn fierce opposition from a variety of groups, and has even triggered lawsuits by multiple state’s attorneys.

During an interview with NBC 5 Political Reporter Mary Ann Ahern last month, Pritzker said he anticipated the General Assembly would debate tweaks to the bill when they convene for their veto session beginning on Nov. 15.

A variety of tweaks have been proposed, including an amendment proposed by Sen. Scott Bennett that would seek to widen judicial authority to detain defendants they deem to be a risk to the public.

Criminal justice groups have largely come out in opposition to that amendment, arguing that it would undermine the original intent of the bill.

Under the provisions of the bill, as passed by the General Assembly, the state will allow judges to determine whether individuals accused of a specific set of felonies and violent misdemeanors pose a risk to another individual, or to the community at large. Judges will also be asked to determine whether the defendant poses a flight risk if released.

If the judge makes any of those determinations, then the defendant may be held in jail prior to trial.

The list of so-called “forcible felonies” that could invite judicial discretion on pretrial detention include first and second-degree murder, predatory criminal sexual assault, robbery, burglary, residential burglary, aggravated arson, arson, kidnapping, aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm, or any other felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.

Detention hearings are not mandatory for crimes that include probation as a possible punishment, but judges can still make the determination to keep those defendants incarcerated pending trial if they determine they are a risk to the public.

Those charged with stalking, aggravated stalking, domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery would also potentially be subject to pretrial detention.

Republicans have largely blasted the measure, and some state’s attorneys on both sides of the aisle have challenged the legislation in court.

Some challenges, including one filed by Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy Karlin, argue that since cash bail is included in the state’s constitution that a bill cannot eliminate the policy. He also argues that the statute is worded too vaguely, and that it could be interpreted in different manners in different counties.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, a Democrat, filed suit against the bill, arguing that it was rushed through the legislature in violation of laws that require a bill to remain in front of the body for at least three days.

Region: Chicago,Local,City: Chicago

via Local – NBC Chicago

November 9, 2022 at 04:47PM

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