Claim: There’s a list of violent crimes that people will not be arrested for come September 18, 2023 when the Pretrial Fairness Act portion of the SAFE-T Act takes effect.
Fact: The list is not accurate. Most of the charges listed are detainable if the court believes the person will not show up to court and anyone who is arrested for one of these charges while already on pretrial release for another crime can be denied release until trial.
Fact: Under the Pretrial Fairness Act portion of the SAFE-T Act, persons accused of a crime involving the use of a gun can be held in jail until their trial without the option of paying bail if prosecutors present evidence to a judge that the person poses a danger to someone else or is a flight risk. The ad claims that the law will “set free” people charged with offenses like kidnapping and robbery - but in fact, the law allows courts to hold people accused of those offenses in custody if they pose a flight risk.
Claim: In Illinois, police will be banned from removing trespassers from your home as of September 18, 2023.
Fact:This is false. There is nothing banning police from removing trespassers from your home. The police maintain the discretion to arrest anyone who poses an obvious threat to the community or any person or to their own safety.
Claim: People currently incarcerated will be released September 18, 2023, when portions of the SAFE-T Act related to cash bail are effective.
Fact: After September 18, 2023, judges will still have the ability to detain people. Any person charged with murder may be denied pretrial release.
Fact: Under the current pretrial system, anyone in jail who makes bail can be released. In the current system, the amount of money someone has determines whether they can be released—not whether they pose a threat to someone else or are likely to flee prosecution.
Claim:If the SAFE-T Act had been in effect when Drew Peterson killed his wife he would not have been able to be arrested.
Fact: Anyone charged with murder who poses a threat to another person can and would be denied release under the Pretrial Fairness Act portion of the SAFE-T Act.
Claim: When Illinois eliminates cash bail September 18, 2023 murders, kidnappers and rapists will not be arrested, but instead just issued a notice to appear in court.
Fact: This is absolutely false. There is nothing in the Pretrial Fairness Act preventing arrests for these crimes. The Pretrial Fairness Act also allows all of these individuals to be detained pending trial. Only individuals who commit minor crimes are issued notices to appear in court. The Pretrial Fairness Act portion of the SAFE-T Act ensures that the facts of a person’s case will be the main factor determining who is jailed and who is released pretrial, instead of the size of their bank account.
Claim: Serial domestic abusers, sex offenders and residential burglars will be set free without judges being allowed to consider general public safety.
Fact: Judges retain the power to deny release for all these alleged offenses: domestic violence, sex offenses and residential burglary.
Claim: Law enforcement must complete their reports in a very short period of time in order to comply with the “48 hour rule”. In that short time frame, they will need to report to prosecutors and then prosecutors must review the reports, make charging decisions, bring offenders to court, and present evidence showing the accused is a threat. This is an almost impossible standard and an unfunded mandate.
Fact: There is already a time requirement between arrest and when someone must appear in court, which is based on US Supreme Court case law requirements. Currently, within 48 hours of arrest, a judge must make a finding of probable cause to allow law enforcement to keep someone in custody. The Pretrial Fairness Act portion of the SAFE-T Act does not change this initial timeline between arrest and appearance in court. The 24-hour and 48-hour timelines in the SAFE-T Act apply to detention hearings, which occur after someone has already appeared in court for the first time. As a result, the Pretrial Fairness Act portion will likely mean there is a longer timeframe between when someone is arrested and when the decision about their release or detention is made compared to the status quo.
Claim: The new law eliminates the ability to hold people in custody in an in-patient setting in clear crimes of substance abuse or mental illness.
Fact: Mental illness and issues with substance use are not crimes, and jails are not treatment centers. Judges retain the power to issue conditions of release including ordering treatment and assessments.
Claim: Come September 18, 2023, no one will remain in jail longer than 90 days if they need a trial. After the 90th day, they get out, no matter what crime they committed and then, if they don’t show up for court, a warrant won’t be obtained and they won’t come back to court.
Fact: Nothing in the law requires the release of people on September 18, 2023. A determination on continued detention will need to be made in accordance with the law. The Illinois Supreme Court is working with courts and providing guidance on these hearings and more. It should be noted that individuals charged with violent crimes, such as murder and rape will still be detained under PFA.
Claim: The legislation reforms qualified immunity.
Fact: The legislation creates a task force to discuss qualified immunity and related issues. Law enforcement has several representatives on this commission.
Claim: The legislation was “devised to destroy law enforcement and empower criminals.”
Fact: The legislation creates additional protections for good officers, with increased training, mental health support, and legal protections to prevent retaliation against officers who prevent or report police abuses.
It also creates additional procedures to protect the rights of people who have been accused but not convicted of crimes, including clearer rules about allowing people who have been arrested to make phone calls and new legal responsibilities for law enforcement to provide appropriate medical assistance to anyone in their custody – particularly pregnant women.
Claim: This is a bill that will remove police from actively patrolling.
Fact: Nothing in this legislation prohibits or discourages active patrolling. It does, however, increase training to help law enforcement better respond to crises and understand how to appropriately use force in dangerous situations.
Claim: The legislation eliminates felony murder.
Fact: The legislation does not eliminate felony murder, but only makes agreed upon clarifications to whom it applies.
Claim: The legislation eliminates funding for law enforcement agencies.
Fact: The legislation does not reduce funding for law enforcement. In fact, it creates a financial incentive to law enforcement agencies that try to meet state deadlines for adopting body camera use.
Claim: The legislation enacts significant changes to keep criminals in custody.
Fact: The system makes minor changes to update sentencing law, most notably prohibiting the practice of revoking someone’s driver’s license for failure to pay fees. This practice makes it difficult for people to maintain employment and pay their fees and other bills.
Claim: The legislation makes significant changes to law enforcement’s ability to arrest criminals.
Fact: The legislation makes changes to increase trust between law enforcement and the community and to ensure that potentially deadly force is only used when an individual presents a threat to others. For example, someone can’t be arrested for “resisting arrest” unless there is an underlying crime that would justify making an arrest in the first place.