KNOX COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy S. Karlin filed a lawsuit Wednesday against state and legislative leaders over the much-debated SAFE-T Act legislation.

The suit, filed by Karlin and Knox County Sheriff David Clague, lists as defendants Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Gov. JB Pritzker, Speaker of the House Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, and Senate President Don Harmon.

In his press release, Karlin said he is concerned that the SAFE-T Act is “full of contradictions, ambiguities, and is poorly drafted,” as well as suggesting that both the Act itself and the passing of the Act during the 2021 General Assembly might be unconstitutional.

Despite popular rhetoric disparaging the end of cash bail, however, Karlin stated in that same press release that he supports bail reform.

“I whole-heartedly I agree that a person’s freedom should not depend on the size of their bank account,” wrote Karlin. “I will continue to work with regional legislators to ensure that bail reform takes place in Illinois.”

Karlin said he is concerned with how the SAFE-T Act may be implemented in Knox County, as well as what he calls the lack of “articulated uniform guidelines” to ensure uniformity across Illinois’ 102 counties.

“Such stark differences in a defendant’s experience based on where they were arrested creates significant liability for counties from law suits under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” wrote Karlin.

In the SAFE-T Act’s Pretrial Release section, the act stipulates that a person charged with a crime is entitled to a trial within 90 days, cut down from the current 120 days. Karlin said he is concerned that cases required scientific analysis of DNA, fingerprints, firearms, and drug analysis will not be able to be brought to trial within a shorter period of time.

Additionally, Karlin stated his concern for detainees suffering from mental health crises at the time of arrest.

We have been able to hold these people in custody until a bed opens in an inpatient setting for the defendant receive treatment,” Karlin wrote. “The new law will eliminate this tool for dealing these types of defendants.”

Karlin asked in his release that the constitutional questions raised are resolved “before the Act’s effective date on January 1, 2023;” however, the SAFE-T Act was passed in 2021 and several parts have already been in effect since July 1 of last year. 

“In the meanwhile, the Knox County State’s Attorney’s Office will continue to do its best to prepare for January 1st,” Karlin said to end his release. “We will continue to pursue public safety, stand up for victims, and hold criminals accountable.”

Read the full lawsuit here: