Illinois SAFE-T Act: State leaders, residents debate pros and cons in Naperville

The raging debate over the SAFE-T Act has made its way to the western suburbs.

It was a chance for local leaders to explain the law and for curious residents to ask questions.

The controversial SAFE-T Act was passed last year in the middle of the night, and signed by Governor JB Pritzker.

"The reason the implementation date was put to January 1, 2023, was getting past this election," said state sen. John Curran.

A meeting at Naperville City Hall was held Monday night to discuss the new SAFE-T Act, eliminating cash bail come next year.

"No one's opposed to some of these reforms, but the devil is in the details," said Judge Liam Brennan, 2nd District Appellate Court.


Supporters of the SAFE-T Act say "access to money" shouldn't determine whether a suspect should be detained. But what do opponents fear? Eliminating cash bail will allow dangerous criminals to go free.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin says the law will be not retroactive in his county, and there will not be a flood of criminals let loose.

"Meaning it will apply to all crimes beginning January 1st and thereafter," Berlin said.

Per the law, judges are allowed to restrict and detain violent criminals if, before trial, they "pose a specific, real and present threat to a person or have a high likelihood of willful flight."

There are forcible felonies that will no longer be detainable, come January 1, like aggravated DUI and drug offenses.

"The intent is to drive down detention," Curran said.

Some residents are upset that the law seemed rushed.

"The legislator has such terrible timing, on how they can pass a bill. If someone is up at 2 in the a.m. and has an hour to read 700 pages, obviously that’s not going to happen," Naperville resident Tony Mesta said.

State's Attorney Berlin says he's not opposed to the idea of the law, but he and others are working towards suggesting changes to lawmakers during the next veto session.