Amendments to SAFE-T Act await Pritzker’s signature


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker could soon sign a revised SAFE-T Act after Illinois lawmakers approved more than 300 pages of amendments on Thursday.

The Illinois Senate voted 38-17, favoring changes to the highly contested act. Not long after, the House voted to adopt the changes as well. Passed nearly two years ago by the Democratic-controlled Illinois Legislature, the act implements rigorous new training standards for law enforcement, clarifying the use of force standards and requiring body cams on all police by 2025. 

Additionally, Illinois will become the first state to eliminate cash bonds when the legislation goes into effect at the start of the new year. 

Several critics of the act say the changes to the law aren’t perfect but, overall, an improvement. 

Among the changes, the new law clarifies that more crimes can result in a person being held in jail when they await trial. It also specifies when a judge can determine if a defendant is a danger to others and should be detained. 

“Before, we had to show someone was a threat to a specific-named individual. Now, they have put in the law a threat to the community, so judges can detain people if they’re a threat to the community,” said DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin.

Benjamin Ruddell with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois says some of the fundamental changes to the legislation center on ensuring courts have a clear picture of what to do to conduct hearings, for instance, when someone is in jail, on bond, or free in the community. Another key provision, he says, focuses on the charges someone faces. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Illinois lawmakers introduce tweaks to the SAFE-T Act

“Under what circumstances can someone be detained on the basis that the court finds that their release would endanger a person or the community, and so there were some adjustments around that piece,” Ruddell said.

Proponents of the legislation say it transitions the state to a more impartial system, focusing on questions like flight risk instead of how much money someone has to determine if they’ll sit in jail or be free awaiting trial. 

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