CHICAGO –To explain how the SAFE-T Act works to make the criminal legal system more equitable, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) and State Senator Omar Aquino (D—Chicago) are holding a virtual town hall on Monday, Oct. 3.

“Before this law, the criminal legal system disproportionately favored folks with more money—which is not ’justice’ at all,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The SAFE-T Act will make sure offenders of serious crimes are not able to walk free just because they can afford bail, keeping our communities safer and creating more accountability for serious crimes.”

The SAFE-T Act Town Hall will be held Monday, October 3 from 6-7:30 p.m. over Zoom. To pre-register for the virtual town hall, click here.

Under current law, people who commit serious crimes, such as murder, rape, sex offenses or gun crimes, can use cash to pay for their release, while people charged with minor offenses who cannot afford cash bail have to sit in jail awaiting trial. This unfairly allows people with more financial resources to evade the consequences of their actions, while keeping people with less financial resources from going to work and caring for their families by holding them in jail.

To address these issues, the SAFE-T Act gives the judge the power to determine if a person charged with a crime will be held or released. When the Act goes into effect, judges will be able to hold someone they deem as “too dangerous” regardless of their ability to pay for bail. This change will make sure those accused of serious crimes are kept out of the community, no matter how much money they have, and people who are charged with minor offenses can be released if they do not pose a risk to others.

Additionally, this law takes the first steps to rectify the disproportionate negative impact of the current criminal legal system on people with low income. Under a cash bail system, people living in poverty who are charged with nonviolent crimes are held in jail before being convicted of the crime they were charged with. This means that people who are arrested and found innocent after a trial have to miss work, school, or other obligations that can negatively impact their financial status. Many may end up losing their jobs or living situations because of the money lost in this time period. Dissolving the cash bail system will give people who are accused of committing a nonviolent crime the opportunity to continue to earn money and support their family between the time of their arrest and their trial date, preventing folks from slipping further into poverty if they were unable to afford bail.    

"People deemed to be a danger to others or themselves will remain in jail if a judge decides so," Senator Aquino said. "The SAFE-T Act is not a tool for impunity, but it's a venue to stop the historical unfairness of keeping poor people in jail for not being able to "buy out" their freedom as wealthy people do in the current system. Senator Pacione-Zayas and I will happily explain this and any other concerns to our constituents in our virtual town hall meeting." 

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
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Springfield, IL 62706
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District Office:
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