Just weeks before the hugely controversial SAFE-T Act was set to go into effect as law in Illinois on 1 Jan, Gov J.B. Pritzker signed a package of revisions to the bill. The changes address and clarify some of the remaining problematic aspects of the original legislation, which had been amended three times previously.

In a press release Tuesday afternoon, Pritzker said the bill (HB1095) “addresses misinformation” and makes clarifications “that uphold the principle we fought to protect: to bring an end to a system where wealthy violent offenders can buy their way out of jail, while less fortunate nonviolent offenders wait in jail for trial.”

The changes approved last week by Democratic members of the General Assembly is the fourth follow-up bill to the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, or SAFE-T Act, passed in January 2020.

State’s attorneys across Illinois sought the changes. Many said barring adjustments, there would be confusion come the new year and the potential that judges would lack the ability to detain alleged criminals accused of some violent crimes.

There had been a huge amount of understandable confusion – which the governor dismissed Tuesday as (of course) “misinformation” – pertaining to what judges and law enforcement could/could not do once the law came into effect in January. The way it stood written originally, police could not arrest and remove an individual on another person’s property for trespassing. Nor could a judge be sure if he had the authority to hold someone charged with 2d degree murder (I covered the fierce arguments here and here in September) under the nebulous verbiage,

…The amendment also clarifies the standards that judges must follow when considering whether a defendant presents a danger to the public, and adds several offenses, among them aggravated robbery, second-degree murder and home invasion, for which judges can detain a defendant if they’re deemed a threat to the community or another person.

…Those accused of nonviolent offenses must have their hearings within seven days, while those deemed to be a flight risk must appear in court within 60 days. Defendants considered to be a safety threat, such as those accused of murder, sexual assault and other violent crimes, must have a hearing within 90 days.

The measure also seeks to make clear that police can arrest people for misdemeanors such as trespassing that generally require only a ticket, spelling out that arrests can be made if officers believe “the accused poses a threat to the community or any person” or if “criminal activity persists.” An arrest can also be made if the alleged offender has “obvious medical or mental health issues” that pose a risk to their own safety.

Republicans, understandably, had made their strident opposition to the legislation a focal point of campaigns this fall. For their efforts, they and their concerns for public safety were wholly rejected by voters. Republicans wound up slipping to a “superminority” in the Illinois statehouse.

…Democrats in the General Assembly approved the changes last week during their final session of the year, while Republicans continued to decry the law as a threat to public safety. The GOP made its opposition to the law one of the main themes of the just-completed campaign season in which voters rejected all GOP candidates for statewide office and left the party in superminority status in the legislature.

I mean, what do you say to that? What can you say? Let it fall down around their ears and let it become unliveable. Chicago has a good leg up on the rest of the state, leading the way as always. Just this weekend, the bandits were busy. Check out these numbers.

Those were just the robberies.

Here’s the perfect example of a tool judges use now that will be ended by the SAFE-T Act. Yes, they use “unaffordable” bail on defendants to keep them incarcerated – for the public welfare. Because there’d be no other way to keep these sure-to-immediately-repeat, and in many cases mentally unstable, offenders off the street.

That goes away on 1 Jan. The next woman this man punches in the face on the Loop – will she get an apology from Gov Pritzker? (Assuredly not if she’s a white woman.) He’s proud of this mess he’s scrawled his name on.

Mayor Lightfoot deleted her first tweet in months about “public safety” after critic John Kass (and former Tribune writer) called her on it.

What a farce.

There is still a pending lawsuit hanging over the implementation of this statute arguing the law is unconstitutional, with a possible decision mid-December.

…The law still faces a legal challenge from about 60 state’s attorneys across Illinois’ 102 counties, including some Democrats, who joined a lawsuit against Pritzker and other top Democrats contending that the passage of the law violated the Illinois Constitution. A Kankakee County judge could issue a ruling on the lawsuit later this month.

But Illinois voters brought this law and these politicians on themselves, so the proof’s in the pudding how they like living in the state once next year comes along.

I’ll leave the last word to one of the GOP state reps who lost her seat in the November carnage. She calls it about right regarding the SAFE-T Act.

…Republicans “appreciate that a lot of our objections to the bill, finally, when they make it into the public domain and you hear from people” were taken into account when making revisions, GOP state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst, who was narrowly defeated in her reelection bid last month, said during the House debate last week. “But you should be doing a lot more thoughtful policy on the front end.”

“I appreciate you’re trying to put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig,” Mazzochi added.

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