The new Illinois SAFE-T Act eliminates cash bail and allows criminals a get-out-of-jail-free card. The criminal justice framework allows kidnappers, robbers, and arsonists to roam free until their court dates. Parts of the law went into effect in 2021, and the rest of it will be in effect in January, 2023.
Rep. Justin Slaughter, the Chicago Democrat who carried the bill, said the Republicans who opposed it have a “bad stench of racism.”
But many critics say that Illinois will become the crime capital of the nation and will soon be overrun by cartels. The Drug Enforcement Agency notes that Chicago already “has a long history of organized crime and is home to numerous street gangs that use the illegal drug trade to build their criminal enterprises.”
“Compounding Chicago’s crime problem is a steady supply of drugs from Mexican drug cartels, most notably the Sinaloa Cartel. Illicit drugs flow from Mexico to Chicago via a loosely associated network of profit-driven intermediaries, with Chicago street gangs serving as the primary distributors at the street level. The profits earned through drug trafficking increase the staying power of both street gangs and drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), thereby influencing levels of violent crime in both the United States and Mexico. Of particular concern is the trafficking and distribution of heroin, which has increased significantly in recent years and caused significant harm to communities in Chicago and around the United States,” the DEA reports.
The list of offenses for which Illinois law enforcement cannot detain criminals, include:
- – Aggravated Battery
- – Aggravated DUI
- – Aggravated Fleeing
- – Arson
- – Burglary
- – Drug-Induced Homicide
- – Intimidation
- – Kidnapping
- – Robbery
- – 2nd-Degree Murder
- – Threatening a Public Official
- The SAFE-T Act says defendants of these and lesser crimes, such as drug crimes, are presumed eligible for pretrial release unless prosecutors present “clear and convincing evidence” that shows the suspect poses a threat to a specific and identifiable person. Prosecutors will be required to actually request detention and the State of Illinois is required to hold a hearing within 48 hours of apprehension to determine if the suspect should be released. Investigators say they will not have the time they need to compile the evidence from surveillance and body cameras, crime labs and forensic analysis.
The SAFE-T Act gives criminals the right to make three phone calls within three hours of arriving at any place of custody. Critics say this allows them to call their victims and threaten them into not pressing charges. There are no restrictions on the phone calls, which means the perpetrators can intimidate or tamper with witnesses.
Former Alaska Gov. Bill Walker signed into law a similar measure known as SB 91, and Alaskans found that it led to a massive crime wave. As soon as Gov. Mike Dunleavy assumed office, the process of repealing SB 91 was underway and he signed HB 49 by July of 2019.
House Bill 49 gave discretion back to judges and the Alaska Parole Board, and made improvements to the “catch and release” bail system that was created by the notorious and widely hated SB 91.
SAFE-T Act: Policing Highlights
USE OF FORCE
In the area of use of force, the Act:
- Offers new standards for when police use force.
- Requires officers to provide aid after using force.
- Requires officers to intervene if other officers use unauthorized or excessive force.
- Prohibits police access to any military equipment surplus program or purchasing specific types of equipment.
- Requires publishing of any purchase, request, or receipt of equipment through any military purchasing program.
- Expands use of, and changes guidelines and requirements for, body worn cameras and who may access, review, or delete footage.
- Expands officer training on topics including crisis intervention, de-escalation, use of force, high-risk traffic stops, implicit bias, racial and ethnic sensitivity training, and emergency response.
- Mandates use of force reporting to FBI National Use of Force Database.
- Requires reporting of deaths in police custody and due to use of force.
Complaints and Misconduct
In the areas of complaints and misconduct, the Act:
- Creates a statewide decertification process for officers.
- Allows the attorney general to investigate, initiate civil lawsuits, and enforce settlements against police agencies that have a pattern of depriving individuals of their rights.
- Creates stricter body camera regulations and a Class 3 felony for clear and willful attempts to obstruct justice.
- Allows for investigation of anonymous complaints against officers.
- Bans the destruction of police misconduct records.
- Allows complaint filings against police officers without sworn affidavits or other legal documentation.
- Removes the requirements that officers under investigation must be informed of complainants’ names or of the officer in charge of the investigation.
- Prohibits local governments from retaliating against employees who report improper government actions.
- Expands notification of police misconduct to the Illinois State Training and Standards Board.
- Makes data on misconduct more accessible.
- Requires a publicly available database for any police misconduct that results in decertification.
In the certification and decertification process area, the Act:
- Changes Illinois State Police Merit Board composition and reporting to the board.
- Creates a Illinois Law Enforcement Certification Review Panel.
- Enhances automatic and discretionary termination of officers.
- Changes procedures for automatic and discretionary decertification of officers.
- Includes provisions for immediate suspensions.
- Requires verification of training and employment information.
- Requires additional sheriff qualifications.
In other police provisions, the Act:
- Adds reporting of officer dispatch to mental health crises or incidents.
- Makes residency requirements a subject of collective bargaining for cities with populations over 100,000.
- Requires officers to issue a citation rather than arrest for certain low level offenses.
- Provides for confidential mental health screening and counseling for officers.
- Expands crime statistics reporting to monthly.
- Provides people in custody with up to three phone calls within three hours.
- Allows for medical treatment for people in custody without unreasonable delay.
- Amends police pre-arrest diversion/deflection programs to allow for collaboration with other first responders and community partners.
In the pretrial area, the ACT:
- Abolishes cash bail.
- Prevents the results of a risk assessment from being the sole basis for a detention decision and informs the accused person of the tool.
- Establishes a Pretrial Practices Data Oversight Board to oversee data collection and analysis.
- Establishes the Domestic Violence Pretrial Practices Working Group.
- Adds notification of pretrial hearing to crime victims.
- Changes the offense class for violations of conditions of pretrial release.
- Changes pretrial release procedures, including release on own recognizance, warrant alternatives, and conditions of release, including electric monitoring and home confinement revocation, modification, and sanctions.
- May revoke pretrial release under certain circumstances.
- Complete details about the massive crime bill are at this link.