(The Center Square) – An Illinois senator is calling for a full repeal of the SAFE-T Act, which is set to go into effect in less than four months, and is urging residents to sign a petition drive.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity Today Act into law last year.
The SAFE-T will abolish cash bail on January 1, making Illinois the first state in the country to do so.
Pritzker has celebrated the legislation, saying that it supports police departments with funds and equipment such as body cameras, and that the elimination of cash bail will prevent low-level criminals from sitting in jail for months.
State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, is providing a petition online where Illinois residents can urge the repeal of the legislation.
“I can’t walk down the street without being stopped by someone who asks how the SAFE-T Act can be stopped,” DeWitte said.
“Constituents are particularly worried about criminal offenses that will, as of January 1, be considered ‘non-detainable.’ People have legitimate concerns and we need to pump the brakes on implementation so the long list of unintended consequences tied to the Act can be addressed,” he said.
DeWitte notes that Kane County officials have said about 130 current detainees will be released at the end of the year because the offenses for which they are currently being held do not warrant them being held in jail.
State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, was a driving force behind the legislation.
“The SAFE-T Act is based on evidence, data, and solving root causes of violence,” he said in a statement to The Center Square.
“It dares to imagine a world, that actually existed up through the 1970s, where people who never posed a threat to others weren’t rounded up and thrown in jail,” Peters said.
The Orland Park Village Board unanimously passed a resolution demanding state lawmakers work with public safety representatives to address issues they see with the legislation.
The Village of Orland Park said that abolishing cash bail will affect almost every offense, including kidnapping, armed robbery, second-degree murder, drug-induced homicide, aggravated DUI, threatening a public official and aggravated fleeing and eluding.
“We must not allow this law to stand as passed,” Mayor Keith Pekau said. “I can’t even begin to tell you how dangerous this act is.”