At Tuesday’s Naperville City Council meeting, the group passed a resolution encouraging Illinois state legislators to work with community stakeholders and local law enforcement to “fix the remaining problems” with the SAFE-T Act.
The measure specifically mentions concerns with “unreasonably limiting the imposition of cash bail for violent offenders, unreasonably limiting police officer discretion to make arrests, imposing unreasonable police certification and decertification standards, and mandating unreasonable custodial accommodations.”
The resolution passed through city council with a 5-3 vote. Council members Patrick Kelly, Ian Holzhauer and Benny White voted no. Mayor Steve Chirico and council members Jennifer Bruzan Taylor, Patty Gustin, Paul Hinterlong and Paul Leong voted in favor of the resolution.
The SAFE-T Act was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker in 2021. One of the provisions in the bill abolishes cash bail in the state of Illinois starting January 1, 2023. It replaces cash bail with a system that looks into the person’s risk of not appearing for the court, the severity of the offense and the threat someone faces to the community if released.
During public comment, state Representative Anne Stava-Murray spoke about her support for the SAFE-T Act in Springfield, and how she was displeased with the current cash bail system at Illinois bond courts.
“We need data-driven, future thinking policies at our state level,” said Stava-Murray. “It does include reasonable measures like ending cash bail. In the current money bond system, judges make the decisions to jail or release a person pre-trial in a matter of minutes. The primary factor determining if someone is released pre-trial is whether or not they can afford their freedom.”
Councilwoman Bruzan Taylor supported the resolution, but requested a motion to add the phrase “for violent offenders” with regards to cash bail.
“Our number one concern is public safety,” said Bruzan Taylor. “For us to talk with the state and get their attention, so that we can make some improvements. There are some good things about the SAFE-T Act as currently written. But the risk to the community has been the standard historically, but it will not be the standard as of January 1, 2023. It will be the risk of the certain individual.”
Councilman Ian Holzhauer spoke of his experience as an attorney in the United States Air Force. He explained how members of the military are held before trial based on their likelihood to commit future crimes and risk to the community, not on a financial basis.
“I will definitely be voting against this ordinance,” said Holzhauer. “I think it’s very unclear what we are asking for and I think with regard to cash bail, it’s just wrong.”
Councilwoman Patty Gustin noted some issues with the SAFE-T Act that some in the judicial system and law enforcement have problems with, saying the resolution could help open conversations on those topics.
“There are some things in the bill they have concerns about,” said Gustin. “The current bill does not allow police to arrest an offender trespassing outside on private property, even if the offender is unwilling to leave.”
Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan abstained from the vote saying the issue was best left in the hands of state legislators
Reporting for Naperville News 17, I’m Will Payne.