In January of last year, the Illinois legislature passed a hilariously (or tragically) misnamed bill called the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act, also known as the SAFE-T Act. The bill was passed in response to the 2020 BLM riots and was touted as a way to implement “redistributive justice” and “police accountability.” Among other things, it completely eliminates cash bail in Illinois, ensuring that anyone who is arrested for virtually anything will immediately be put back out on the streets. It was endorsed and signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker the following month. The law is scheduled to go into effect on January first and prosecutors and district attorneys of both parties from around the state are now going into panic mode because they’ve seen this scenario play out in other states and they know what’s coming. (National Review)
Illinois prosecutors on both sides of the aisle are sounding the alarm as the clock ticks down to January 1, 2023, the day the state’s criminal-justice system will be turned upside down by a new law that rewrites the rule book around how suspected criminals are treated as they await trial.
“The first thing about this bill I would say is it’s unprecedented,” Thomas Haine, the Republican state’s attorney (SA) of Madison County, Ill., told National Review.
“As far as I can tell, it is the first complete elimination of cash bail,” he continued. “From my mind, it’s the story of the century. You have a complete revolution in the cash-bail set-up in Illinois that was passed without any understanding of what it contained.”
The SAFE-T Act was one of those bills that were literally rushed through in the dark of night. The mammoth bill weighed in at 800 pages. It was brought to the floor of the legislature at four o’clock in the morning and passed an hour later. Clearly, virtually nobody had read the entire thing and many legislators were likely unaware of the complete removal of cash bail that they were about to impose on the state.
Keep in mind that this is Illinois we’re talking about here. In case anyone has forgotten, that’s where Chicago is. And the Windy City is currently experiencing one of the worst crime waves in living memory. That’s all happening before cash bail will be eliminated. What will things be like in Chicago after this goes into effect?
For whatever reason, Pritzker is still very comfortably ahead of his Republican opponent in the polls. With that in mind, he probably isn’t terribly worried about the even larger flood of crime that is about to crash down upon his state hurting his political future. (At least for now.) And if that’s what the voters of Illinois want to do, then they probably deserve everything they have coming to them.
But the Governor might want to keep an eye on what’s happening in New York right now. The Empire State also did away with most cash bail after the Summer of Love (though not as drastically as what’s coming in Illinois). And now, Governor Kathy Hochul is in actual danger of losing her office to a back-bench Republican in a state where she should have easily won her race by 25 points without even bothering to go out on the campaign trail.
Crime is one of the top issues on the minds of voters across most of the country as we head into the midterms. Violent crime rates, along with massive property crime are up in big cities everywhere and people have long since begun to notice and respond. Bail reform laws are being viewed like the skunk at the garden party. And in the midst of all of this activity, Illinois is preparing to turn the “redistributive justice” knob up to eleven. Let’s put on some popcorn and see how that works out, shall we?