Illinois lawmakers prepare for session to revise cashless bail law before it takes effect

SAFE-T law makes several changes to the criminal justice system, including the elimination of cash bail starting Jan. 1.

Updated: November 13, 2022 - 12:16am

Illinois lawmakers are set to return to Springfield for the fall veto session Tuesday. Members from both parties shared their expectations regarding potential changes to the controversial SAFE-T Act.

The Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity Today, or SAFE-T Act, was approved by the General Assembly in 2021.

The bill makes several changes to the criminal justice system, including the elimination of cash bail starting Jan. 1. The measure faces a legal challenge from dozens of state's attorneys and sheriffs from across the state.

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, questioned Republicans' ability to work with the Democrats on the measure.

"The SAFE-T Act is an example of the Republicans being negligent in their oath of office by not negotiating honestly, and coming to the table to represent," Ford told The Center Square.

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, is calling for the removal of the act all together and told The Center Square that Democrats gave Republicans no chance to negotiate the measure.

"In a perfect world, it is a complete repeal," Neimerg said. "This bill was passed at 4 a.m. in the Senate and at 6 or 7 a.m. in the House. There was no debate allowed on this piece of legislation."

Niemerg also questioned the legality of the measure.

"We are at a particular point in time where this will go into effect on Jan. 1, and we have 100 out of 102 states attorneys that are highly questioning this piece of legislation," Niemerg said. "Furthermore, there have been many questions on the constitutionality of this measure."

Ford said some changes are coming but didn't provide details.

"We have worked together to make sure we passed three trailer bills," Ford said. "We are working on even more to make sure that we improve the SAFE-T Act."

The bill also limits who can be arrested and jailed pending trial depending on their crime.

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