Just hours after the measure was passed by the Illinois Senate, the House also voted to approve major changes to Illinois’ SAFE-T Act on Thursday, sending the amended bill to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk.
The measure required 71 votes to pass the House, and that’s exactly the number of votes it got when lawmakers approved the bill in a partisan direct-line vote.
The measure, having passed both houses of the legislature on the last day of the lame duck session, now heads to Pritzker’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
The votes come a day after Illinois State Senator Robert Peters introduced an amendment to the law, which will eliminate cash bail in the state on January 1, 2023.
The amendment largely focused on clarifying the language on several fronts, including whether defendants detained before January 1 will be released once the legislation takes effect and clarifying which crimes would qualify for pretrial detention.
The Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus said the clarifications to the bill were made in “collaboration with law enforcement, state attorneys and other interested parties.”
Still, critics say questions linger about why some conditions of pretrial release will not be made public and why nonviolent robbery was not included on the list of crimes punishable by arrest.
“Republicans have been shut out of the process,” said state Sen. John Curran. “We represent about 35% of the state and never in two years have we been given the opportunity to participate.”
“The SAFE-T Act was the result of hours of testimony and negotiations with domestic violence advocates, reform advocates, law enforcement and state attorneys at the table working to create a path to a better and more criminal criminal legal system. more equitable,” said the state Senator. Elgie R. Sims, Jr. said in a statement. “However, due to the disinformation campaign led by opponents of the measure, we spent countless hours dispelling falsehoods and working to ensure that the law was not taken out of context. The trailer we passed allows us to clarify the language of this transformative law while preserving protections for crime survivors and ensuring we stop criminalizing poverty in this state.”
Here’s a look at what could change if the measure passes:
What additional crimes will be added to the list that would qualify for arrest?
The list of so-called “forced felonies” that could invite judicial discretion over pretrial detention originally included first- and second-degree murder, predatory criminal sexual assault, robbery, burglary, residential burglary, aggravated arson, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault resulting in great bodily harm, or any other felony involving the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.
But the latest proposal adds non-parole felonies, forced felonies, hate crimes, attempted crimes that would otherwise be arrested and others to the so-called arrest net, crimes that qualify a suspect for arrest. The additions include offenses that require jail or prison time, and not probation; all forced felonies; hate crimes, animal torture and DUI causing great bodily harm. Judges may also choose to release those suspects.
“We still have a detention web that is very clear, judges have discretion within that detention web,” Peters said. “But again, the intent and core parts of this legislation remain intact.”
What happens to those currently detained on January 1?
According to a spokesman for the office of Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, the new language would make it clear that “those currently detained can request that the new system be applied to their situation.”
To make the process “manageable for the courts,” lawmakers proposed a tiered system for granting hearings on such requests. The hearings would then determine whether a current detainee should be released. The levels would include:
Hearings for lower level offenses (example: petty theft) must be held within 7 days of the request.
Those detained but considered a flight risk would get hearings within 60 days.
Those deemed potential security threats get hearings within 90 days.
Can the police stop or arrest someone who is trespassing?
Proponents of the bill say this was always allowed under SAFE-T, but the amendment seeks to clarify some of the language.
For trespassing violations, officers must issue a citation to a suspect first, unless the officer reasonably believes the suspect poses a threat, or has an obvious medical or mental health problem. If an officer issues a citation and the trespass continues, then an arrest may be made.
Under the latest proposal, an officer can arrest someone for trespassing if:
The person poses a threat to the community or any person;
The arrest is necessary because the criminal activity persists after the issuance of the citation; either
The defendant has an obvious medical or mental health problem that poses a risk to his or her safety.
If the above conditions are not present, a citation will be issued.
What determines if a person is considered “dangerous”?
The proposed changes also expand the definitions of “deliberate flight” and broaden judicial discretion to determine whether a defendant poses a danger to the public or to a specific individual.
According to Harmon’s office, the amendment “makes consistent throughout the act what a prosecutor must show to arrest an individual on the grounds that the individual is a threat.”
The so-called “dangerousness standard” would be met if “the person represents a real and present threat to any person or persons or the community, based on the specific and explainable facts of the case.”
What happens if someone misses a court date?
Also included in the new proposal is a provision that allows judges to issue arrest warrants or summonses when someone misses a court date.
A summons is an official notice to appear in court, while an arrest warrant tells police to arrest and detain, authorities said.
The amendment also clarifies what is considered “deliberate absconding” under the bill, adding that “the intent is to arrest those who are actively evading prosecution, not someone who failed to appear in court because, for example, they lost their bus”, Harmon’s office. said.