McHenry County's top prosecutor slams SAFE-T Act on social media

It’s been 10 days since the controversial SAFE-T Act took effect in Illinois, making cash bail a thing of the past, and McHenry County’s top prosecutor is calling it a total failure.

Supporters say the SAFE-T Act, which stands for Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today, is a critical step toward a fair criminal justice system, but McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally said the law is a far cry from being ‘safe.’

"It arbitrarily groups different types of offenses into ‘detainable offenses’ versus ‘non-detainable offenses,’" said Kenneally. "It does not matter how dangerous a judge thinks you are, the judge has to let you out into the community. That’s the fundamental absurdity with the SAFE-T Act."

In a lengthy Facebook post, Kenneally blasted the law – and included a list of non-detainable offenses under the SAFE-T Act, which include strangulation and aggravated battery.

He went on to share two examples of why he believes the SAFE-T Act is a "failure."

Just this week, Kenneally said 38-year-old Nicholas Koczor was released from jail. He’d been behind bars since last October awaiting trial. He is accused of calling his ex-girlfriend and leaving a voicemail that stated he was coming to her home and knew how to dismember a body. He was charged with two counts of harassment by telephone.

He was also charged with three counts of aggravated battery to a police officer, after Koczor allegedly "struck one officer and bit and grabbed the [genitals] of another."

Those officers were responding to the victim's call for help.

"It’s terrifying, and if you put yourself in this person’s shoes, or you put yourself in the shoes of the witnesses who are scared to come forward, or victims who are also scared to come forward, and you have the Illinois legislature saying, ‘don’t worry, this guy just has to live at a halfway house and can’t use the phone, and we’ve told him very sternly not to contact you,’ that is not a comfort," said Kenneally.

Prior to the SAFE-T Act, Kenneally said the suspect was unable to post bail, but was released after filing a petition under the new law.

Illinois is the only state in the nation that has eliminated cash bail.


Cash bail abolished in Illinois: Historic criminal justice reform takes effect

Starting Monday, there will be a significant shift in Illinois' criminal justice system as cash bail becomes a thing of the past.

Those who support the act feel the justice system shouldn't be based on money, saying it's wrong to keep people in jail simply because they can’t afford bail.
Kenneally argues that's not the case.

"We were locking up people who were a danger. And in fact, judges had to consider when setting monetary bail, the person’s ability to pay, as well as ensure that the bond was not oppressive," said Kenneally.

Kenneally highlighted another case where, in the last week, a 27-year-old – who was recently released after serving more than two years in prison – was charged again. This time, Kenneally said he was caught with having and intending to sell 30 counterfeit Alprazolam tablets.

The pills are believed to be Clonazolam, which have been tied to overdose deaths in McHenry County.

To read Keannelly’s full Facebook post, CLICK HERE.