An Illinois lawmaker has filed a bill proposing changes in an attempt to clarify language in the SAFE-T Act — which ends cash bail on January 1.
Senate Bill 4228 was introduced by Illinois State Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign.
It aims to clarify language and improve how officials can enforce the new law.
“As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of presuming innocence for individuals before being proven guilty, supporting police and keeping violent criminals out of our neighborhoods,” said Bennett.
“Senate Bill 4228 is an effort to improve consistency in the SAFE-T Act and allow law enforcement officials to continue to effectively perform their duties and protect our communities,” Bennett said.
The SAFE-T Act will allow most people charged with a crime to be released from jail as they await trial without needing to post any cash bail.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who signed the measure into law and has defended the cashless bail provision against critics, recently suggested the SAFE-T Act could undergo some changes.
But some SAFE-T Act supporters already oppose Bennet’s trailer bill.
The Illinois Network for Pre-Trial Justice on Tuesday said it opposed the trailer bill.
“If passed, this bill would cause the number of people jailed while awaiting trial to skyrocket and exacerbate racial disparities in Illinois’ jails,” the network said in a statement.
“The Pretrial Fairness Act was designed to ensure that everyone has access to the presumption of innocence, and the changes included in SB4228 would deny all Illinoisans that right. These measures would create a pretrial system far worse than today,” the statement said.
State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia and the GOP candidate for governor, said the SAFE-T Act will make things worse for Illinois.
“Governor Pritzker has created the crime that goes on in Chicago and on our streets,” Bailey said. “Friends, on Jan. 1, the crime that we are reading about in Chicago will open up across our state.”
Bailey also suggests that a change in leadership is what the state needs.
“Why aren’t they calling Pritzker into account, why are they not calling Lori Lightfoot to account, why are they not asking why Kim Foxx is not prosecuting anyone,” Bailey said.
The INPJ also released a “fact sheet” claiming Bennett’s proposed changes would create a presumption of detention for people charged with crimes that would require them to serve life in prison if convicted.
The INPJ also said the changes remove the ability of defense attorneys to challenge unlawfully obtained evidence at the detention hearing stage meaningfully.
The Center Square and Lake and McHenry County Scanner both contributed to this report.