Boone County Board approves resolution to repeal SAFE-T- Act

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) - Questions regarding the SAFE-T Act stir debate across the Stateline and the Boone County Board even going as far as passing a resolution to repeal the act.

Though the changes are set to take effect on Jan. 1, area lawmakers and law enforcement feel the SAFE-T Act will change the criminal justice system as we know it. Some area lawmakers say the SAFE-T Act will make the community safer, but others think it will only make crime in Illinois worse.

Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest is one of several sheriffs in the area who sound the alarm about Illinois’ plan to end cash bail on Jan. 1. The SAFE-T Act will allow some alleged criminals to be released from jail on a promise to appear in court.

“It’s incredible the list of charges that now will be released,” says Sheriff Ernest. “One of the most frustrating parts is when we let somebody out with no bond and they don’t show up for court we don’t go and arrest them.”

This means 60% of inmates in Winnebago and Boone County jails will be eligible for release, but it doesn’t mean that will happen automatically. Prosecutors can still argue someone should remain in jail if they’re a danger to public safety, a flight risk or a repeat offender.

“There are people in jail because they simply can’t pay because they are simply innocent until they are proven guilty. We are just making this fair,” says State Rep. Maurice West.

Democrats say the goal of the SAFE-T Act is to address the economic disparities in the criminal justice system. State Rep. Maurice West says in the current system, the amount of money someone has determined whether they can be released. Not if they pose a threat to people or are trying to get out of prosecution.

“Who can file that petition? Our state’s attorney. I look forward to him doing his job to ensure that those who are supposed to stay in jail, stay in jail.”

But others argue the SAFE-T Act will make crime in Illinois worse. That’s why the Boone County Board unanimously approves a resolution to repeal the SAFE-T Act.

“If you commit violence against somebody and this is something now that you can just simply be released later in the day. You know, this is not creating safe neighborhoods,” says State Rep. Joe Sosnowski. “Even the governor just recently has announced that there were problems with it and remain problems, but we haven’t seen a commitment to fix it.”

Several representatives urge the Illinois General Assembly to abolish the act because it was passed late at night and they think little thought was put into making revisions.

Democrats say misinformation on social media focuses only on one part of the law, but there are other parts of the SAFE-T Act that allow an alleged offender to be held in jail no matter what their crime is because they pose a risk.