SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a series of amendments and clarifications to the SAFE-T Act Tuesday.
According to state officials, the bill now clarifies multiple aspects of the SAFE-T Act — which ends the cash bail system in Illinois starting Jan. 1.
Changes to the SAFE-T Act now clarify court authority in controlling electronic monitoring and escape, outline specific guidelines for trespassing violations and create a grant program to aid public defenders with increased caseloads.
The amendments were created to ensure that individuals who pose a risk to the community aren’t released from jail just because they are able to pay bail while people without financial means sit in jail regardless of whether they pose a risk at all, officials said.
The SAFE-T Act was the subject of angry debate during the fall political campaign.
On Tuesday, top Democrats praised the SAFE-T Act changes that Pritzker signed – without any ceremony or fanfare.
The state Senate's new Republican minority leader calls the changes positive, but not enough. He wants accused burglars added to the list of offenders judges could lock up pre-trial.
"They did put in a whole bunch of additional crimes that are violent crime that, in the first act, were not eligible for detention. And they are now. But we need further expansion of that," said state Sen. John Curran, Republican from Downers Grove.
The SAFE-T Act abolishes cash bail across Illinois as of January 1. During the political debate prior to November’s election, Democrats focused on that.
However, Republicans such as Curran, a former felony prosecutor in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, focused on parts of the SAFE-T Act that even Democrats such as Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul conceded were flawed. Specifically, confusing language in the original SAFE-T Act seemed to some to require judges to release accused violent offenders.
Sen. Curran complains that burglary, for example, is not a detainable offense.
"We're going to continue to press our case to make further changes to make sure the public enjoys their right to be safe in their community," Curran said.
Both sides await a ruling later this month from a judge in Kankakee on a lawsuit brought by the state's attorneys of several dozen counties.