100 of 102 Illinois state's attorneys oppose cashless bail letting 2nd-degree murderers out of jail

"No cash bail means that criminals are able to go out and be able to commit their crime and harass and attack the same people that are the reason why they were in jail in the first place," said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

Updated: September 18, 2022 - 11:06pm

One hundred of the 102 state's attorneys in Illinois are opposed to the state's new cashless bail provisions, which are set to take effect next year for crimes such as second-degree murder. 

The state's new criminal justice reform law — the Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act — is a 764-page omnibus bill that was passed by the state Senate at 4 a.m. on the last day of a lame duck legislative session and passed by the state House less than 24 hours later. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law in January 2021, but provisions such as abolishing cash bail and not allowing trespassers to be removed from properties by police will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. 

Some county and village boards, such as Boone County and Orland Park Village, have unanimously approved resolutions to repeal or change the SAFE-T Act. 

According to a press release from the Orland Park Village Board, a suburb of Chicago, cash bail will be abolished for crimes such as "kidnapping, armed robbery, second degree murder, drug induced homicide, aggravated DUI, threatening a public official and aggravated fleeing and eluding." 

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau (R) told "Just the News, Not Noise" TV show on Thursday that the cashless bail isn't the only issue with the law.

"It's the fact that trespassers cannot be removed from your property by police," Pekau said. "They can't lay a hand on someone. So how are you going to get someone who's living in your shed or in your pool or took camp in your business to actually leave? And it's going to lead to people taking the law into their own hands, which I don't think any of us thinks is a really good idea."

The law also negatively impacts police officers, as "anonymous complaints are now accepted, can be used to besmirch officers when they go and testify," Pekau explained.

"This bill not only enabled criminals, it really targeted police officers to try and drive them out of the profession," he added. "And frankly, I don't know how we're going to get good police officers to stay or get people who will be good police officers in the future to join with a law like this in place."

Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow, who is pushing for the SAFE-T Act to be repealed, said last month, "It will destroy the state of Illinois." 

"I have 640 people in the Will County jail," Glasgow explained. "All their bonds will be extinguished on Jan. 1, and 60 are charged with murder." 

Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe has filed a lawsuit in his county's circuit court against the governor and state attorney general, arguing that the SAFE-T law violates the state constitution. 

Pritzker's office criticized the lawsuit, calling it a "weak attempt to protect the status quo that lets murderers and abusers pay their way out of jail."

Winnebago County State's Attorney J. Hanley explained in a recent op-ed that the crimes that cash bail has been abolished for "are not eligible for detention no matter the severity of the crime or the defendant's risk to a specific person or the community, unless the People prove by clear and convincing evidence the person has a 'high likelihood of willful flight to avoid prosecution.'"

Following release, "judges may no longer issue a warrant when a defendant fails to come to court," Hanley added. "Instead, an absent defendant must next be served with a court order asking them again to appear and then fail to appear a second time before a warrant may be issued."

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) told "Just the News, Not Noise" on Wednesday, "No cash bail means that criminals are able to go out and be able to commit their crime and harass and attack the same people that are the reason why they were in jail in the first place."

Davis said that while he believes in criminal justice reform and doesn't want people who are charged with lesser crimes to be in jail longer than those who commit worse crimes but have more money to make bail, "this is a step too far.

"This is where criminals are going to be coddled," he said. "Criminals in Illinois are going to have the upper hand."

The increase in crime in Democrat-leaning areas will lead to Republican victories in the midterm elections, Davis predicted. 

Pritzker has repeatedly defended the law. "The Safe-T Act is designed to keep murderers and domestic abusers, violent criminals in jail," he said at a press conference on Wednesday,

"Making sure that we're also addressing the problem of a single mother who shoplifted diapers for her baby, who is put in jail and kept there for six months because she doesn't have a couple of hundred dollars to pay for bail," he added. "So that's what the Safe-T Act is about. Are there changes, adjustments that need to be? Of course, and there have been adjustments made, and there will continue to be. Laws are not immutable." 

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