A Democratic prosecutor in the Chicago-area is sounding the alarm over a criminal justice reform law that will “tie the hands” of prosecutors and “destroy the criminal justice system in Illinois.”
The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act, signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., in 2021, will implement sweeping reforms to Illinois’ criminal justice system, though it has drawn criticism from law enforcement professionals across the political spectrum.
“I never, in my 40-years in this profession, ever thought I’d ever see anything close to this,” Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow told Fox News Digital in an interview. “The intent of this law is to destroy the criminal justice system in Illinois, and I’m not going to let that happen.”
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The law includes numerous provisions that proponents say will improve public safety in Illinois and make the state’s criminal justice system more equitable.
Critics of the law take issue with some of those provisions, including ending cash bail; prohibiting judges from considering a defendant’s previous behavior when determining whether he or she is a flight risk; allowing a 48-hour period between the time a defendant on electronic monitoring leaves home without permission and the time authorities can charge that person with escape; and new police training policies without additional funding for departments.
Glasgow is suing Pritzker and the Illinois attorney general in hopes of preventing the law from going into effect in January.
Glasgow, one of the most high-profile state prosecutors to come out against the SAFE-T Act, is joined by 100 of 102 Democratic and Republican state’s attorneys in Illinois who oppose the law.
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Under the SAFE-T Act, second-degree murder, aggravated assault, drug offenses, intimidation, carjacking, and arson will not be detainable offenses unless the suspect is proven to be a flight risk or risk to public safety.
The standards to prove “willful flight” in these instances have also been raised to unrealistic standards, according to Glasgow, further reducing the chance of detaining individuals on these charges.
There are over 600 inmates in the Will County jail, however under Pritzker’s recent law, about half of these inmates will be released on day one of it going into effect, according to Glasgow, with the remaining half released 90-days later.
“Have you ever heard of any government passing a law to release everyone in their jails? No one has ever done that before, and no one would ever think to do that,” Glasgow went on. ” That would be suicide.”
Glasgow said that the greatest “fallacy” of this new law is that felony defendants will still be detained, pointing out that prosecutors will be required to take cases to trial within 90 days, otherwise defendants are released — a task he said is virtually impossible given the complexity of many legal cases.
The Will County state’s attorney has been public that he is not against bail reform, often pointing to New Jersey as a successful model of modernizing the cash bail system without increases in violent crime rates, however he believes the SAFE-T Act is not the correct course of action.
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“The bottom line is there has to be a balance,” Glasgow said. “And when someone crosses a line, with regards to violent crime, that has to be addressed aggressively in order to prevent that person from harming other people.”
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.