Illinois SAFE-T Act 2023: Lawmakers pass revised version of controversial bill about cash bail

The cornerstone of the Pretrial Fairness Act eliminates cash bail as of January 1st.

Friday, December 2, 2022
Illinois SAFE-T Act 2023: Lawmakers pass revised version of controversial bill about cash bail
The Pre-Trial Fairness portion of the law will go into effect on January 1 and will eliminate cash bail.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Lawmakers took action Thursday to address concerns about the controversial SAFE-T Act, in particular, the provisions about bail and detention.

The Pre-Trial Fairness portion of the law will go into effect on January 1 and will eliminate cash bail.

The revised version of the Pretrial Fairness Act passed both the House and Senate Thursday and is now headed for Governor J.B. Pritzker's desk for his signature.

Democrats worked to clean up a bill that drew a lot of Republican criticism during the election season.

However, amidst concerns that some dangerous criminals could be released, Democrats amended the bill. It expands the list of detainable offenses and also outlines what prosecutors have to show a judge in order to get a defendant held pending trial.

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"They should only be detained something about the offense they are accused of suggests that they pose a real and present threat to others. Prosecutors are required to articulate exactly what that threat is," said the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Robert Peters, (D) Chicago.

However, in the Senate, the debate got very partisan at times.

"I believe today culminates, in my opinion, the most frustrating and disgusting, embarrassing day in Illinois' history. It's a slap in the face to every voter," State Sen. Darren Bailey, (R) Louisville.

"The hypocrisy of my friends on the other side of the aisle is, if you want to talk about disgusting, let's talk about the way you will not participate in the process but then demean the same," said Sen. Elgie Sims, (D) Chicago.

RELATED: Lawmakers criticize potential financial burden Safe-T Act poses to local governments

The bill also clarifies several other issues, including that police can arrest someone for trespassing and that judges can issue arrest warrants when someone misses court.

With Democrats holding supermajorities in both the Senate and the House, Republicans continued to criticize the process, even going after the governor.

"There are substantive changes that are being made because of the harm, putting the public at risk as a result of the SAFE-T Act in the first place. So governor, why'd you sign the law in the first place and put the public at risk," said State Senate Minority Caucus Chair Jason Barickman, (R) Bloomington.

RELATED | Illinois law eliminating cash bail has some in law enforcement concerned

Democrats said that making these changes to how criminal cases will now be handled has been a process that has worked.

"It's not perfect now but we can continue to work toward the concerns of the public and every single policy area, including criminal law, and I think this bill largely does that," said Senator Scott Bennett, (D) Champaign.

This revised bill also creates a 3-tiered system for current defendants to request release after January 1. It does not happen automatically.

Hearings will have to be conducted between seven and 90 days, depending on the seriousness of the case.

Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement after the conclusion of the 2022 legislative session:

"As we conclude the 2022 veto session, I want to congratulate the lawmakers and advocates who came together on behalf of the people of Illinois and made this session a success. Government is at its best when we come together across party lines to make Illinois the best it can be.

For almost six months, working groups of legislators have been hard at work with victims' advocates, state's attorneys, public defenders, law enforcement partners and others to clarify language in the SAFE-T Act, which goes into effect January 1st. I'm pleased that the General Assembly has upheld the principles we fought to protect, including bringing an end to a system where those charged with violent offenses can buy their way out of jail, while others who are poor and charged with nonviolent offenses wait in jail for trial.

I want to particularly thank the legislators who came together to make this work possible, with a special note of congratulations to Leader Gordon Booth, Representative Slaughter, Leader Sims and Senator Peters.

This week a historic bipartisan agreement was reached to fully restore our unemployment system after the worst recession since the Great Depression. And the plan also includes adding $450 million more to our still under-resourced Rainy Day Fund. Earlier this week it was my privilege to stand with the leaders in both chambers from both parties who tirelessly sat at the table with business and labor to get this done. "Thank you again to: Leaders Cunningham and Holmes, Senators Rezin and Stoller, Leaders Evans and Hoffman, and Representatives Marron and Ugaste.

Additionally, we were able to bolster the Reimagining Electric Vehicles Act by adding provisions which will give manufacturers the ability to ramp up production of EV parts and provide additional flexibility as the market evolves. By continuing to pass innovative measures that support the emerging electric vehicle industry in Illinois, we are well on our way to meeting our goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

There's still more work to do, so we'll be hard at work getting big things done in the 103rd Illinois General Assembly."