WILL COUNTY, Ill. — Two lawsuits were filed by Will and Kankakee county officials Friday over the SAFE-T Act.
Officials in the counties claim the bill, signed by Gov. Pritzker, is unconstitutional.
The nearly 800-page bill eliminates cash bail in Illinois and that is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2023.
As election season roars, the bill has been described by conservatives as a “Purge law.” It’s become a central issue in GOP candidate for governor Darren Bailey’s campaign — framing cash bail elimination as a law that will make it difficult to detain accused offenders and allow criminals to run rampant.
Gov. Pritzker said the law implements necessary criminal justice reforms.
On Friday morning, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe filed a lawsuit naming two defendants — Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Gov. JB Pritzker.
The lawsuit says the SAFE-T “violates the single subject rule” which mandates that a piece of legislation contain only one topic. It also alleges the “statute is unconstitutionally vague” and that the general assembly violates the “separation of powers principle” by effectively changing the state constitution without a referendum or constitutional convention.
On Friday, WGN political analyst Paul Lisnek interviewed former Illinois Republican House leader Jim Durkin. The former prosecutor said lawmakers should throw out the SAFE-T Act and go back to the drawing board.
“This is becoming an issue because people are starting to take notice, and this is going into effect on January 1 where you’re going to have a serious situation regarding public safety in Illinois,” Durkin said.
This week, Gov. Pritzker responded to the criticism — saying conservatives have been spreading misinformation.
“Well, let’s just set the record straight with everybody. The SAFE-T act is designed to keep murderers, domestic abusers, violent criminals in jail,” Gov. Pritzker said. “We’re addressing the problem that exists today, making sure that we’re also addressing the problem of a single mother who shoplifted diapers for her baby who is put in jail and kept there for six months because she doesn’t have a couple of hundred dollars to pay for bail, so that’s what the SAFE-T act is about.”
Other states, including New York and New Jersey, have passed similar laws limiting the use of cash bail.