File Photo – Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart | Photo: Joe Shuman/J. Shuman Photography (2022)

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said that the SAFE-T Act, which ends cash bail in Illinois on January 1, “is going to make everyone safer” but agreed that further changes are needed before the act goes into effect.

Rinehart appeared on WGN Tuesday alongside Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser.

The two prosecutors, who are both Democrats and have different viewpoints on the topic, discussed the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity Today (SAFE-T) Act.

When asked to respond to the claim that potentially violent criminals would be released when the law goes into effect, Rinehart said that was “complete disinformation” and a “complete lie.”

“This bill was signed in January of 2021 and it puts victims first. That’s why I’m for it, that’s why every major victims’ rights group is for this bill and this version of the bill,” Rinehart said.

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Rinehart said that the “disinformation campaign” claiming violent criminals will be released “retraumatizes victims.”

Rinehart said his office has already filed petitions seeking to hold defendants in jail in preparation for the end of cash bail provision of the SAFE-T Act that goes into effect on January 1.

“We have 52 individuals charged with sex offenses who are in our jail right now. We’re going to seek to hold all of them. We’re going to have those rulings before January 1st.”

Rinehart called the SAFE-T Act a “historic piece of legislation that puts victims first and addresses race and class disparities.”

Mosser and Rinehart sparred with each other regarding whether there is such a thing as an “undetainable offense.”

Mosser gave an example that a person charged with unlawful restraint, which is a Class 4 felony, could not be held in jail if there was no domestic relationship between the victim and defendant, and no sex offense was involved.

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“By the way this was written, it cannot be detained, I cannot ask for that person to be detained and a judge cannot,” Mosser said.

Rinehart said that Mosser’s example was “not a great one” because the defendant would likely be charged with other offenses besides unlawful restraint, which would then allow a judge to order a defendant detained.

Mosser called cash bail “antiquated” and both she and Rinehart agreed it does not work.

“Both of us are talking with legislators. Both of us are talking with law enforcement. I’ve been working with my Lake County chiefs to fix a problem regarding trespassing. There are going to be small changes,” Rinehart said.

Both state’s attorneys believe judges currently do not have the authority to keep potentially violent criminals from being released, but they hope the changes they are proposing to the bill will change that.

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Senate Bill 4228 is one of the trailer bills to the SAFE-T Act that has been proposed in an effort to improve some of the law’s language.