CHICAGO (WMBD) — Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 1095 into law today, thereby clarifying and amending the controversial SAFE-T Act passed in 2021.
The bill, which passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate last week, clarifies several aspects of the SAFE-T Act, including the detention net, processes for transitioning to cashless bail, and definitions of willful flight and dangerousness.
“I’m pleased that the General Assembly has passed clarifications that uphold the principle we fought to protect: to bring an end to a system where wealthy violent offenders can buy their way out of jail, while less fortunate nonviolent offenders wait in jail for trial,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Advocates and lawmakers came together and put in hours of work to strengthen and clarify this law, uphold our commitment to equity, and keep people safe.”
The bill’s passage before the end of 2022 is important as the elimination of cash bail is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2023. According to a press release from Gov. Pritzker’s office, these clarifications made by HB 1095 will create a more equitable system where pre-trial detention is based on community risk rather than financial means of the suspect.
“We understand that public safety is not a static issue,” said Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria). “This legislation strengthens the underlying SAFE-T Act with valuable feedback from survivors, law enforcement, prosecutors, and other public safety advocates. If we want to make our communities safer, we have to work together. This update is a step in the right direction.”
Changes to the Act clarify court authority in controlling electronic monitoring and escape, outline specific guidelines for trespassing violations, and create a grant program to aid public defenders with increased caseloads. The amendments clarify that individuals who pose a risk to the community aren’t released from jail just because they are able to pay bail while people without financial means sit in jail regardless of whether they pose a risk at all, the press release stated.
“The SAFE-T Act, including these important clarifications, will help right the wrongs of policies that have disproportionately harmed low-income, marginalized communities while helping to keep Illinoisans safe,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “I commend members of the General Assembly for coming together to make these changes and provide us a clear path to ensure both accountability and justice. We must stop criminalizing poverty, and that is our goal as we end cash bail in Illinois and uphold human rights for all in our legal system.”
Lawmakers have not ruled out the possibility of amending the SAFE-T Act further in the future.