Illinois passed the SAFE-T Act, which will go into effect in January 2023

According to ICJIA, the SAFE-T act was created to “implement sweeping reform impacting many aspects of the criminal justice system.” As part of the act, individuals incarcerated for a list of crimes will not be permitted to be bailed out of jail as a result of financial fortune. 

The SAFE-T Act addresses abolishing cash bail, police training, what equipment they have in the field, and makes reforms to prisoner rights.

Law enforcement is not permitted to purchase military equipment such as firearms of .50-caliber or higher and weaponized vehicles or aircraft. Officers are also not allowed to use chokeholds but are ordered to intervene when another officer is using excessive force.

By 2025, all law enforcement agencies will be required to have body cameras — these cameras have to be turned on when an officer is in uniform and responding to a call.

Many upstate lawmakers believe people should not be kept in jail because they cannot afford bail. Others believe that the SAFE-T Act, specifically abolishing cash bail will bring danger to communities.

“I believe the elimination of cash bail, particularly as it’s written in the SAFE-T Act, will reduce public safety and lead to more crime in Illinois,” state representative Patrick Windhorst shared with KY3.

“I know after talking with prosecutors and law enforcement officers, they’re really concerned that the public is going to point the finger at them and say, ‘Why aren’t you doing more about these offenses?’ And with this major change in the law, a lot of their ability to do their jobs has been restrained,” Windhorst said

The Johnson County sheriff agreed with Windhorst.

“Anyone sitting in jail right now with all these pending charges, they’re going to be let out,” Johnson County Sheriff Peter Sopczak said. “The gates are open and they’re going to be let out onto the streets.”

Windhorst listed some of the offenses that won’t involve detention before going to trial.

“Violent crimes, burglary, robbery, arson, kidnapping, almost all drug offenses, DUI offenses, even DUI offenses involving a fatality, do not qualify for detention under the Illinois Safety Act,” Windhorst said. “That’s going to mean a lot of individuals are committing crimes and being released immediately, if not within a couple of days.”