Gov. Pritzker signs off on SAFE-T Act amendments, lawsuit still moving forward

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 10:27 PM CST
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ILLINOIS (KMOV) - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed off on amendments to the SAFE-T Act Tuesday. Despite the clarifications to the incoming law, a bipartisan lawsuit appears to be moving forward.

Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas Haine is one of 62 Illinois state’s attorneys who filed a lawsuit against the SAFE-T Act.

“In Madison County, we charge 4,000 felonies a year and many thousands more misdemeanors and traffic offenses. We only have 260 people currently held in our jail, that’s a tiny percentage of the serious crimes charged in Madison County,” Haine told News 4 in an October interview. “This is not a situation where judges are holding trivial, low-level offenders for no reason. The individuals being held in our jail on bond have been assessed by a judge, repeat offenders, risky offenders, offenders who have failed to show up to court repeatedly--those are the folks we’re saving our valuable jail space for.”

According to the SAFE-T Act, judges determine who can and can’t be released from jail.

The new clarifications expand the list of detainable offenses, how prosecutors can get suspects held in jail and the implementation of a three-tier system for detainees who want to be released after the law goes into effect.

“It’s bringing equity to the criminal justice system,” said J.D. Dixon, the director of Empire 13, a grassroots Metro East organization that focuses on social and racial justice. “You won’t be able to afford it [bail] because of that economic disparity, and then we end up losing our homes. We end up losing our cars and jobs and that just puts us right back into the system.”

Empire 13 has held information sessions in the Metro East to educate residents on the SAFE-T Act.

The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed the case regarding the lawsuit will start on December 20 and likely last a week.