The Illinois SAFE-T Act, which has been nicknamed “the Purge law” and “most dangerous law” by detractors, has now gone into effect in the state.
Illinois’ 764-page Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act serves as a massive overhaul to the prior justice system. It changes many aspects of policing, pretrial, and corrections.
The Purge nickname comes from the film series in which all crime becomes legal for one day each year. It has been loudly opposed by 100 of 102 state attorneys.
The law aims to eliminate cash bail and allow detention only in cases “when it is determined that the defendant poses a specific, real and present threat to a person, or has a high likelihood of wilful flight.”
The threat must be to a “specific, identifiable person or persons,” rather than a general threat to the community or class of persons, according to a report from the Associated Press.
“This is a much higher burden than commonly used today in courts throughout the country,” says Jon Walters, an assistant state’s attorney in the office of Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, told the AP. “The new standards could potentially be insurmountable.”
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau told Fox News that “when I said that this is the most dangerous law I’ve ever seen, I believe that.”
On Thursday, Circuit Judge Thomas Cunnington ruled in favor of dozens of counties and several prosecutors and sheriffs in a lawsuit arguing that the pre-trial release and bail reforms in the SAFE-T act are unconstitutional.
“Today’s ruling affirms that we are still a government of the people, and that the Constitutional protections afforded to the citizens of Illinois – most importantly the right to exercise our voice with our vote – are inalienable,” Kankakee County State Attorney Jim Rowe, one of the lead plaintiffs, said in a statement after the judge’s ruling.
The elimination of cash bail has been temporarily halted as the state appeals — but the rest of the bill is in effect as written.
Zack Smith, a legal fellow and manager of the Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy Program in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News that the bill presents massive problems for the state.
“I know the governor disputes this but there are currently incarcerated individuals who are going to be released when this bill takes effect,” Smith said. “So you’re talking about not only the prospective application of this, but also the immediate flood of people that are going to be released back onto the streets statewide when this bill takes effect. And that, I would say, is going to have a very negative impact on public safety in Illinois.”