Senate Approves SAFE-T Act Changes, Sends New Proposal to House – NBC Chicago

The Illinois Senate voted to approve some major changes to Illinois’ SAFE-T Act on Thursday, sending the proposed amendment to the controversial bill to the House.

The vote comes a day after Illinois State Senator Robert Peters filed an amendment to the law, which is expected to eliminate cash bail in the state on January 1, 2023.

The amendment was largely aimed at clarifying the language on several fronts, including whether defendants detained before January 1 will be freed once the legislation takes effect, and clarifying which crimes would be eligible for pretrial detention.

The Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus said the clarifications to the bill were made in “cooperation with law enforcement, state attorneys and other stakeholders.”

Still, critics say there are lingering questions about why certain bail conditions will not be made public and why non-violent burglary was not on the list of custodial offences.

“The Republicans were left out of the process,” said State Senator John Curran. “We represent about 35% of the state and never once in two years have we been allowed to participate.”

With Senate approval, the measure now goes to the House for a vote of approval.

“The SAFE-T Act is the result of hours of testimony and negotiations with domestic violence advocates, reform proponents, law enforcement and state attorneys at the working table to create a path to a better and fairer criminal justice system,” State Sen said. said Elgie R. Sims, Jr. in a statement. “However, due to the disinformation campaign by opponents of the measure, we have spent countless hours dispelling the lies and working to ensure the law is not taken out of context. The trailer we have passed allows us to clarify the language of this transformational law while preserving protections for survivors of crime and ensuring that we stop criminalizing poverty in this state.

Here is an overview of what could change if the measure is approved:

Q: What additional crimes will be added to the list that will qualify for detention?

The list of so-called “forced crimes” that could invite judicial discretion over remand originally included first and second degree murder, criminal predatory sexual assault, robbery, burglary, residential burglary , aggravated arson, arson, kidnapping, aggravated battery resulting in grievous bodily harm or any other crime involving the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.

But the latest proposal adds non-probationary crimes, forced crimes, hate crimes, attempted crimes that are otherwise punishable by detention and others to the so-called detention net – crimes that qualify a suspect for detention. Additions include offenses that require jail or jail time, not probation; all forced crimes; hate crimes, animal torture and impaired driving causing serious bodily harm. Judges can also choose to release these suspects.

“We still have a detention net that is very clear, judges have discretion within that detention net,” Peters said. “But again, the intent and essential elements of this legislation remain intact.”

Q: What happens to people currently detained on January 1?

According to a spokesman for the office of Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, the new wording would clarify that “persons currently incarcerated may request that the new system be applied to their circumstances.”

To make the process “manageable for the courts,” lawmakers have proposed a tiered system for granting hearings on such claims. Hearings would then determine whether a current inmate should be released. Tiers would include:

  • Hearings for the lowest offenses (example: petty shoplifting) must take place within 7 days of the request.
  • People detained but deemed a flight risk would get hearings within 60 days.
  • People considered potential security threats get hearings within 90 days.

Q: Can the police detain or arrest someone who is trespassing?

Proponents of the bill say it has always been allowed under SAFE-T, but the amendment seeks to clarify certain terms.

For trespassing offences, officers would be required to issue a citation to a suspect first, unless they reasonably believe the suspect poses a threat or they have an obvious mental health or medical condition. If an officer issues a citation and the trespass continues, an arrest can be made.

Under the latest proposal, an officer can arrest someone for trespassing if:

  • The person poses a threat to the community or any other person;
  • The arrest is necessary because the criminal activity persists after the citation is issued; Where
  • The accused has an obvious medical or mental health issue that poses a risk to their safety.

If the above conditions are not present, a citation would be issued.

Q: What determines if a person is considered “dangerous”?

The proposed amendments also expand the definitions of “willful flight” and broaden the judge’s discretion to determine whether an accused poses a danger to the public or a particular individual.

According to Harmon’s office, the amendment “makes it consistent throughout the act what a prosecutor must show to detain an individual on the basis that the individual is a threat.”

The so-called “dangerousness standard” would be met if “the person poses a real and present threat to one or more people or the community, based on the specific and explainable facts of the case.”

What happens if someone misses a court date?

The new proposal also includes a provision that allows judges to issue arrest warrants or subpoenas when someone misses a court date.

A subpoena is a formal notice to appear in court, while an arrest warrant orders police to arrest and detain, officials said.

The amendment also clarifies what is considered ‘willful absconding’ under the bill, adding that ‘the intent is to detain those who actively evade prosecution, not someone who has failed to show up. in court because, for example, he missed his bus,” Harmon’s office said. said.

Here is the full text of the bill:

NBC Chicago

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