Illinois’s SAFE-T Act attracts supporters, detractors

State's new no cash bail system raises eyebrows

Photo credit: Sasha Moore/KBSI

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI)- Just shy of two years now, Illinois’s SAFE-T has been a law unbeknownst to many.

The Act – which stands for “safety, accountability, fairness and equity-today – was signed into law February 2021 by Gov. JB Pritzker.

The 800-page criminal justice reform act wears — and will continue to wear — many hats.

The 2021 Illinois safety, accountability, fairness and equity-today (SAFE-T) Act enacts extensive reform impacting many areas of the criminal justice system, including pre-arrest diversion, policing, pretrial, sentencing, and corrections.

The Illinois criminal justice information authority is tasked with implementing several of the act’s provisions as well as serving on the various task forces.

While the new law is favored, some are not on board.

“My concern is for the people being held in our county jail with no bond. No opportunity for grandma and grandpa, or aunts and uncles to come together and bond them out because, make no mistake my job is a prosecutor but everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and I don’t believe that a straight no cash, no bail system, pays attention to the one who’s in jail,” said Jackson County State Attorney Joseph Cervantez.

That isn’t the only concern Cervantes has.

The issue of funding for the state’s attorney office is high in demand.

Cervantez, though, said it feels more like a defunding platform.

Added Cervantez: “When legislation is made in Springfield, and it trickles down to the homes and streets here in Jackson County, it is up to the local government to make sure that I have the tools and the assets and the people and the training to do my job …to implement the will of the people, which is the SAFE-T Act.”

In short, posting bond is going to be more difficult these days with the new Act in place.

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