SPRINGFIELD – State’s Attorneys from across the state explained how their work – and the ultimate safety of their communities – will be threatened when some provisions of Illinois’ controversial overhaul of its criminal justice system take effect next year.
State Senator Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) stood with other Senate Republican Caucus members April 6 at a Capitol Press Conference as they heard the State’s Attorneys address their front-line concerns with the SAFE-T Act.
A major criminal justice rewrite, the SAFE-T Act (House Bill 3653) was passed despite bipartisan opposition in lame-duck session January 13, 2021.
“Despite being opposed by many Illinoisans, elected officials and nearly every law enforcement organization in the state, the controversial criminal justice reform bill was passed in the early morning hours of the lame-duck session in January of 2021,” Stewart said. “After all the controversy and the tremendous public outcry against this terrible legislation, it’s hard to believe it’s now law.”
Signed by the Governor February 22, 2021, the new law empowers criminals by making it harder to arrest violent offenders and keep them off the streets. It also increases both costs and requirements on police departments, meaning that many communities would likely see cuts to their local police departments, higher property taxes, or a combination of the two.
“It’s hard to figure out who this Governor and his legislative allies in the Majority Party were listening to at the time. It was definitely a new low for Illinois,” Stewart said. “Their actions transcended public policy differences. Their actions superseded the rights and safety of law-abiding men and women in favor of criminals who have no regard for right and wrong, and who ignore society’s laws and do what they want, thus threatening the safety of our families, our friends, and our communities.”
Stewart says he is willing to work with his General Assembly colleagues in a bipartisan manner before the scheduled spring session adjournment of April 8 to make the changes needed to fix many of the controversial and dangerous provisions of the new law.