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SPRINGFIELD In collaboration with law enforcement, states attorneys and other stakeholders, the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus passed a measure Thursday to clarify the Pretrial Fairness Act portions of the SAFE-T Act and ensure smooth implementation of the law.

“The SAFE-T Act was the result of hours of testimony and negotiations with domestic violence advocates, proponents of reform, law enforcement and states attorneys at the table working to create a pathway to a better and more equitable criminal legal system,” said State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago). “However, due to the misinformation campaign led by opponents of the measure, we spent countless hours dispelling falsehoods and working to ensure that the law was not taken out of context. The trailer we passed allows us to clarify the language of this transformational law while preserving the protections for crime survivors and ensures we stop criminalizing poverty in this state.”

A joint effort, the bill provides clarification to common misconceptions spread about the Pretrial Fairness Act portions of the SAFE-T Act since its passage in January 2021. In recent months, a smear campaign against the law overwhelmed social media and headlines of fake newspapers, leaving many Illinoisans confused on what the law actually does.

“This bill protects the intent of the Pretrial Fairness Act,” said State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago). “I’m thankful for the Coalition to End Money Bond, the state’s attorneys association, the sheriff’s association, and victim advocates for their role in coming together and making this happen.”

House Bill 1095 combats the false narrative by explaining judges can issues warrants and summons, providing a reminder that any person who poses a threat to the community or someone else – including trespassers – can be arrested, and clarifying court authority when it comes to electronic monitoring, among other items. 

“These historic reforms put Illinois in the national vanguard as we build a more fair and equitable criminal legal system,” said Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr . “We are immensely proud of the joint efforts by advocacy groups, lawmakers and system partners to fight back against the fearmongering and misinformation and to preserve the essence of this landmark for justice.”

Under House Bill 1095, the intent of the Pretrial Fairness Act remains – the bill merely clarifies language to ensure it cannot be taken out of context.

“Our goal remains ensuring the Illinois’ pre-trial system is equitable and everyone is treated equally regardless of their financial status,” said Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). “It was pertinent to bring together a diverse group of individuals to create a comprehensive plan that maintains the intent of the Pretrial Fairness Act while ensuring our court systems have the tools they need to serve their communities. I am proud of our effort to improve the consistency within the law.”

To provide a smoother transition to the implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act, the measure also clarifies that any person charged on or after Jan. 1 will have their pretrial release determined under the new system.

It also outlines that anyone charged prior to Jan. 1 would stay on the current bail system, however, people arrested prior to that can motion to have their case heard under the new rules – which will happen on a rolling basis dependent on the severity of the crime.

“Our top priorities always have been to ensure public safety and to protect the rights of all individual citizens, both victims and those accused of criminal offenses,” said Julia Rietz, Champaign County States Attorney and president of the Illinois States Attorneys Association. “We appreciate that my colleagues and I, along with our law enforcement partners, had a seat at the table during these negotiations to address our concerns and be a part of the process of creating a comprehensive bill that supports the intent of the Pretrial Fairness Act, addresses logistical concerns, and most importantly protects public safety. I thank lawmakers and advocates for their collaborative effort.”

The measure is a collaborative effort alongside law enforcement, states attorneys, Coalition to End Money Bond, ACLU of Illinois, the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, CAASE, and more.

“The Pretrial Fairness Act supports meaningful inclusion of survivors and their needs in the pretrial process,” said Madeleine Behr, Policy Manager at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. “We support the clarifications in HB1095 to ensure the safety of survivors continue to be prioritized.

House Bill 1095 passed the Senate Thursday.

One pager: PretrialPressBrief_FINAL.pdf