Revised SAFE-T Act will still cause chaos, put dangerous people on the streets

State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, center, testifies Dec. 1 before the Senate Executive Committee on his legislation to clarify the SAFE-T Act, a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that eliminates cash bail. Co-sponsors are Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, left, and Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign.

AP Photos

Changes recently made to the Illinois SAFE-T Act did not go nearly far enough. The Act remains confusing, inconsistent and contradictory. 

A good argument can be made that abolishing cash bail is a good thing. No one should have an advantage In the state’s criminal justice system simply because they are a person of financial means.  

Nevertheless, despite advocates’ claims otherwise, violent defendants will be released to the streets. Even ignoring the many flaws within the Act, it will be a disaster from just an administrative standpoint. Despite recent revisions, there will be a stampede of already detained defendants who will demand release pursuant to the new amendments. Those who claim otherwise are either severely misinformed, or are simply being disingenuous.

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Will court personnel be able to handle what will be an avalanche of extra work demanded by the Act? This new work will prove exceedingly onerous and, without additional staffing, there will be administrative chaos within the criminal justice system. The overload of tasks to comply with the Act will result in significant oversights and release of those accused of violence.

And what happens when released defendants do not appear for their next court date or otherwise violate the condition of their release? Does anyone truly believe that Illinois has the resources to track down all of them?

Those who question the amendments are accused of “fear-mongering” or spreading “misinformation.” Yet, the Act should be feared. Proponents gave Illinoisans little detailed information about the Act, and the people deserve more than that.

Terry Takash, attorney, Western Springs

Bomb threats the wrong path on sex education dispute

Francis Parker school had a bomb threat this week. Someone didn’t like the school’s choice to show students sex toys as part of its sex education curriculum. People have three objections. Two are wrong and one might have some merit. Let’s get the wrong ones out of the way. “It’s grooming.” No, it’s not. Grooming is a Class 4 felony. According to the criminal code, grooming is when a person connects electronically or in person with a child for the purposes of making sexual contact or exploitation with photographs. This was a sex education class. If someone doesn’t like the content, that doesn’t change the purpose of the class.

The second objection: “Sex education classes aren’t supposed to teach about sex toys.” That’s wrong too. There is no prohibition on showing sex toys in the Public Act on sex education, and there are two places in this act where sex toys need to be mentioned (but not necessarily displayed) to fulfill the act’s requirements: when discussing sexually transmitted diseases — sharing sex toys can expose one to sexually transmitted disease — and when talking about abstinence, which is supposed to be emphasized. Sex toys that aren’t shared can be important tools to stay abstinent.

The third objection is “Children aren’t ready for this.” The act says “age-appropriate,” but gives no guidance on what that means, leaving it up to schools. If the community wants a more narrow law explicitly defining “age appropriate,” the community should request that from our legislators.

Bomb threats and ranting about teachers being arrested for things that aren’t against the law are not the right path. They are tantrums from adults. We owe it to our children to be better models.

Deedee Dawson, Old Town

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December 15, 2022 at 02:07PM

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