State Attorneys Discuss Proposed Changes to SAFE-T Act

Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser has spent the past two weeks working with prosecutors, law enforcement officials and lawmakers in other states to make changes to the SAFE- T before its introduction on January 1, 2023.

Mosser, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, Peoria County State’s Attorney Jodi Hoos, and DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin met twice a week on Zoom with SAFE-T lawmakers and advocates, Illinois Sheriffs Association, Illinois Chiefs Association. of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police of Illinois for negotiations on law changes.

The “hot talk” maintains the law’s intent to eliminate cash bail, but Mosser said she and other state prosecutors are asking to review certain provisions, such as the ability to detain people for certain crimes and to uphold the rights of victims.

“We’re working on the language to see if we can come to an agreement on things,” said Mosser, who hopes the changes will be proposed in trailer bills during the fall veto session in the US. Illinois General Assembly in mid-November.

“We have done a lot of work and I can say that I am satisfied with the changes that have been proposed and received,” said Mosser. “I think everyone who comes to the table has the best intentions to eliminate cash bail, but to do so not only by protecting the rights of the accused but also the safety of the victims.”

Mosser said she was concerned about how under the new law those charged with serious crimes would not be detained. For example, a person involved in a fatal car accident who fled the scene or someone who threatened a school could not be detained, she said.

“I think it was all unintentional and when you have a year and a half to unpack the legislation, you find these things,” Mosser said.

The SAFE-T Act was intended to create a fairer justice system and promote police accountability. Proponents say eliminating cash bail solves a long-standing problem that keeps poor defendants, mostly people of color, locked up awaiting trial because they can’t afford to post bail.

Recently, Kendall County Council members unanimously approved a resolution calling on the General Assembly to work with law enforcement to resolve issues related to the SAFE-T Act.

Kendall County State Attorney Eric Weis and Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird joined state attorneys for Will County and McHenry County in filing lawsuits against the State of Illinois for the purpose of amending certain of the provisions of the law.

The SAFE-T Act also requires every police department to equip its officers with body cameras by 2025, allows people to file anonymous complaints against the police, and creates a more robust system for decertifying police officers.

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