Picking up where we left off Sunday, we asked state Sen. CHAPIN ROSE, R-Mahomet: What’s the one aspect you welcome — or dread — more than any other in the SAFE-T Act, the transformational criminal-justice reform law that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023?
“Well, you can’t isolate ‘just one’ as the worst; collectively, this law will cause real harm to the citizens of Illinois and needs to be repealed.
“But here is something that isn’t getting a lot of attention in the media: Prosecutors will not be allowed to seek arrest warrants when a defendant fails to appear to face the charges against them.
“Think about that for a moment. Who would ever come back to court for their trial if they could simply run off and never be brought in to face the music?
“Ridiculous? You bet.
“And requiring prosecutors to name a ‘specific, ongoing threat’ to detain individuals accused of certain crimes is another equally-as-stupid component of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Democrats’ not-so-safe SAFE-T Act.
“From a practical standpoint, there is no way current downstate counties can add all the numerous procedural requirements to their workload without dismissing cases or allowing people who should be held pending trial to walk ... as the system will simply be overwhelmed in paperwork.
“Under these new rules, you could easily double the time prosecutors need to prepare for bond court each day. In a practical sense, local prosecutors will have a tough choice: pull staff from other court calls — i.e., stop prosecuting other cases — to help cover daily bond court, or forget about asking for bond at all on some defendants.
“But for most of the smaller counties around us, who are already working on shoestring budgets and typically only have a single assistant prosecutor on staff, pulling in prosecutors from other court calls is not an option, because they don’t exist. Which brings us back, once again, to fewer bond hearings — and more bad guys walking the streets.
“It’s simple math: Anything that increases the workload of police and prosecutors to put the bad guys behind bars means more bad guys on the streets.
“But, hey, you don’t need me to tell you this, simply look around. Cook County started something very similar a couple years ago. So did New York City and San Francisco — all have led to higher crime rates.
“Just ask yourself this question: If this was such a good idea when the Democrats passed it two years ago at 3 in the morning with less than an hour’s notice, why are they all now running around five weeks before the election saying they need to fix it?
“Is this the ‘Oops, we made a mistake’ campaign strategy, or is it that they have finally been forced to confront the true nature of what they voted for, and, in the case of Gov. Pritzker, signed into law?
“But passing hundreds of pages of legislation on 58 minutes’ notice at 3 a.m. rarely leads to good public policy, and it sure as hell isn’t making anyone in Illinois ‘safe.’”