Illinois Democrats-
Today, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the Pretrial Fairness Act, eliminating cash bail in Illinois


About the SAFE-T Act:

The 2021 Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act enacts extensive criminal justice reform impacting policing, pretrial detention, sentencing, and corrections.
The SAFE-T Act creates new standards for use of force, allows for collaboration with other first responders and community partners, and creates statewide processes for filing complaints and reporting police misconduct to promote justice and equity in policing while keeping Illinoisans safe.
The SAFE-T Act also reforms police training, expands detainee rights, and requires body cameras at all departments by 2025.
THE SAFE-T Act expands services for victims of crime, allowing them to receive compensation for financial burdens including loss of income and funeral expenses.

Why is the SAFE-T Act important?

The existing bail system allowed for people to be released based on how much money they have rather than their actual threat to public safety. Under the SAFE-T Act, judges have discretion to keep dangerous criminals detained.
The SAFE-T Act includes important reforms to make the criminal justice system more equitable for Black and brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted by it.
Cash bail creates a criminalization of poverty, and the SAFE-T Act includes important changes to equalize our system.

How does this law help Illinoisans?

This law creates greater equity in our pretrial detention system while prioritizing public safety.
The SAFE-T Act will help reduce jail populations, freeing up resources to hold dangerous criminals that pose the biggest threats to public safety accountable.
The SAFE-T Act empowers judges to make decisions about a detainees potential threat to the public, moving away from access to cash as the determining factor.

Why is this bill controversial?

Disinformation being spread about the SAFE-T Act is an attempt by right-wing conservatives to fearmonger and deceive Illinoisans.
Illinoisans were inundated with false information about what the SAFE-T Act would actually mean, mischaracterizing the elimination of cash bail as a complete loss of judicial power to keep dangerous criminals in jail before trial; it does the opposite by giving judges discretion to hold detainees including flight risks, repeat offenders out on pretrial release, and those who pose a specific threat to public safety.
Viral graphics asserted that the SAFE-T Act would create non-detainable offenses for which detainees could not be held in jail; these claims were patently untrue as judges were always given discretion to detain dangerous criminals.
SAFE-T Act opponents claimed the bill would “defund the police;” the SAFE-T Act updates requirements for police departments receiving government funding, outlines funding allocation requirements for new training, and gives funding preference to departments that complied with new body camera requirements, but did not defund any Illinois police.


There is no such thing as a “non-detainable offense.”
Judges still have the discretion to detain dangerous criminals.
The SAFE-T Act moves Illinois from a pretrial detention system which prioritizes wealth to one that prioritizes public safety.
Pretrial detention reform is just one of many provisions included in the SAFE-T Act. There are several changes included to create a more equitable criminal justice system that restores trust and promotes public safety.
The bottom line: our current system allows people to be released from jail if they have the money for bail. The SAFE-T Act removes money as a factor while allowing judges to detain offenders they deem to be a threat.


Talking Points:
Without the pretrial reform included in the SAFE-T Act, the amount of money an offender has determines whether they can be released. Bail reform empowers judges to hold dangerous offenders in jail based on public safety assessments, not access to cash.
There is nothing in the law that requires those suspected of crimes be let out of prison. Judges are still able to impose pretrial restrictions on dangerous people, and are required to consider the threat the defendant poses to public safety.
Public safety is best addressed by focusing on risk rather than money. That’s what the SAFE-T Act does.
Any person suspected of a crime can be detained because they pose a flight risk or because they are a repeat offender. Those charged with the most serious crimes can also be detained for their risk to public safety.
The state Constitution does not require Illinois to maintain a system of cash bail–opponents are attempting to tie up this legislation in courts as a last ditch effort to prevent equitable reform from being implemented.


A single mother who shoplifted diapers for her baby would not have to be kept in jail for months awaiting trial if she could not produce bail money.
Individuals accused of violent crimes who previously could have gotten out of jail because they were rich or backed by a criminal organization can now be held based on a judge’s discretion based on that person’s threat to public safety.
Spending even a few days in jail increases one’s likelihood of becoming homeless, unemployed, or rearrested, even if they aren’t convicted. A low-income, non-violent offender might be detained and lose out on income or potentially lose their job entirely only to be acquitted or have their charges dropped. The SAFE-T Act prevents them from sitting in jail while they wait for a court date, preventing a potential domino effect.

Pushing back on misinformation/lies about the SAFE-T Act:

When they say: The SAFE-T Act creates non-detainable offenses that automatically lets dangerous offenders out of pretrial detention, putting our communities at risk.

We say: There is no such thing as a non-detainable offense. People accused of charges that are not outlined in the “detainable offense” list can still be held pretrial if a judge determines that they are a flight risk, if they are in violation of their parole or probation, if they are already on pretrial release for a previous charge, or if they pose a threat to public safety.

When they say: The SAFE-T Act will automatically release dangerous criminals onto the streets when it goes into effect.

We say: There would be no automatic release of detainees; a detainee in jail before the bill takes effect can request a hearing for pretrial release and the same standards of judicial discretion instituted under the SAFE-T Act would apply. 

When they say: The SAFE-T Act ties police officers’ hands and prevents them from enforcing laws and keeping communities safe.

We say: The SAFE-T Act creates new standards for training and accountability that will make us all safer. It does not disempower police, but work to restore and build trust between police and the communities they serve.

When they say: The SAFE-T Act defunds the police.

We Say: The SAFE-T Act updates requirements for police departments receiving government funding, outlines funding allocation requirements for new training, and gives funding preference to departments that comply with new body camera requirements, but does not defund any Illinois police.

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