Below is a newsletter from State Representative Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) on the SAFE-T Act, which includes a petition you can sign to show your support to repeal the legislation as well as information on bills she is supporting to increase public safety. To sign up for Rep. Grant’s newsletter to stay informed on updates from Springfield and the 42nd District, click here.
News from State Representative Amy Grant:
Over the last few weeks, the SAFE-T Act has dominated news cycles, social media, and conversations across our neighborhoods. There’s been fear, speculation, and questions about what exactly this change in our law will mean for our communities and the safety of our families. There’s power in information and especially in knowing just what will change in our criminal justice system, which is why I am writing this newsletter: to help you understand the impact this legislation will have on public safety in our community and what you can do about it.
Our criminal justice system needs reform so that those who commit minor non-violent crimes are not kept in jail simply because they are poor and this bill does contain some good reform measures. However, a bill this broadly far-reaching, which was filed and passed within hours under extremely limited debate, naturally contains errors and questionable provisions. There are a number of inconsistencies in the 764 pages, and many poorly thought out sections that will have severe unintended consequences on public safety. I voted against this bill because of the concerning changes to state’s criminal justice system, including:
- Denying police the ability to get trespassers off private property. Local law enforcement routinely handles criminal trespass violations, someone who refuses to leave a bar, restaurant, retail business, or private property. Until the trespasser, or the property owner, escalates to imminent risk of bodily harm, the SAFE-T act denies police legal authority to use force to get the trespasser off the property.
- Allowing anonymous complaints against police officers. This opens them up to false accusations, which can then be brought up against them in court while giving testimony against alleged criminals.
- Allowing alleged criminals on electronic monitoring to be in violation of that monitoring for 48 hours before they can be looked for and charged with felony escape.
- Finally, come January 1, Illinois becomes the first state to eliminate cash bail. Bail reforms in places like New York have already been rolled back and voters in California struck down a proposition to end cash bail.
- This creates a presumption of release for all defendants. Pretrial release may only be denied when a person is charged with an offense that qualifies for denial of pretrial release (as defined in 725 ILCS 5/110-6.1) or when the defendant has a high likelihood of willful flight.
As the ramifications are steadily being felt in our communities, I am committed to making our state safer, which means addressing the glaring problems in this bill. To do that, I have backed the following pieces of legislation and will continue to fight for their passage:
HB 4809 – Makes taking an officer’s body camera, or any part of that camera, in order to prevent arrest or prosecution an obstruction of justice.
HB 4808 – Creates the offense of a habitual misdemeanant. If a person has 3 or more pending charges for misdemeanor domestic battery, battery, violation of an order of protection, or criminal damage to property of a family or household member, then that defendant may be charged as a habitual misdemeanant offender. This would be a Class 4 felony.
HB 4684 – The SAFE-T Act requires that once a person has been detained they must be brought to trial within 90 days, HB 4684 would extend that time to 120 days to ensure there is adequate time to prepare to bring a case to trial.
HB 4683 – Provides that the penalty for aggravated domestic battery is a Class X felony when the person committing the domestic battery strangles another individual. Thereby making the sentence to no less than 6 years and no more than 30 years.
Unfortunately, we will not be allowed to vote on any of these bills unless House Speaker Chris Welch agrees to release them from the Rules Committee. Call Speaker Welch at (217) 782-5350 and demand he stop blocking the House Bills mentioned above so that they can receive a hearing and an up-or-down vote.
You can make your voice heard by signing our statewide petition to support repeal of the SAFE-T Act that puts Illinois families at risk and makes our communities less safe. It’s essential that as a resident of Illinois you voice your input on this: an issue that greatly impacts our community and the future of our state.
Keeping our families safe is a top priority for me. I know that the objective goal of ‘increasing public safety’ is all-encompassing and a moving goal line: change doesn’t happen overnight. However, it is my job to represent your concerns in the state legislature, which means I want to hear from you. Please know my door is always open.