Top Democrat prosecutors are warning that Illinois’ new “woke” criminal justice reform law will “tie the hands” of law enforcement and “destroy” the state.
Illinois is due to implement sweeping reforms to the state’s criminal justice system after Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act in 2021.
However, the radical new law has drawn criticism from law enforcement professionals across the political spectrum.
Many are now warning that the crime crisis in the Chicago area will only deepen when SAFE-T comes into effect in January.
The new law will see hundreds of criminals, many held for violent crimes, immediately released from the state’s jails.
“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, a Democrat, told Fox News 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.”
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, which mainly benefit criminals.
Among the “woke” provisions include:
- 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
- New police training policies without additional funding for departments.
One of the most high-profile state prosecutors to come out against the SAFE-T Act, Glasgow is suing Pritzker and the Illinois attorney general in hopes of preventing the law from going into effect in January.
Glasgow is joined by 100 of 102 Democratic and Republican state attorneys in Illinois who oppose the law.
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.
On day one of Pritzker’s recent law going into effect, around half of the 600 inmates in the Will County jail will be immediately released.
The remaining half will be released 90-days later, according to Glasgow.
“Have you ever heard of any government passing a law to release everyone in their jails?” Glasgow asked.
“No one has ever done that before, and no one would ever think to do that.
“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.
“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.”