OpEd: Senator Patrick Joyce (October) (Essex, IL) —
Keep our communities safe.
This is an important part of the commitment every elected official – federal, state, local – makes when he or she takes the oath of office. If our constituents cannot count on us to keep them safe, we will all suffer tremendously.
It was with that commitment to safety that I chose not to vote for the SAFE-T Act when it was presented in the early morning hours at the end of the 101st General Assembly in January 2021. And it is with that same commitment to public safety that I helped lead conversations about how to turn the conversation about the SAFE-T Act from fear and misunderstanding back to productive solutions.
The law’s supporters had many conversations over months in 2020 aimed at a worthy goal: improving our criminal justice system. I advocated for several important pieces that ended up in the final package that passed through the Legislature as that session ended. But in the end, I could not support the bill as it was presented.
We have seen firsthand the intense controversy over several items in the law ahead of it taking effect on Jan. 1, 2023. That is why I worked closely with my colleagues in the Senate and the law enforcement community on making the law better at the outset.
I am a chief co-sponsor of Senate Bill 4228, which makes several important updates to the SAFE-T Act:
- With the original law eliminating cash bail, there is a concern that prisoners in custody before Jan. 1 could be released – even those who have committed serious crimes. Our legislation says the bill will only apply to crimes committed on Jan. 1 and thereafter
- The legislation will make clear judges have the authority to deny pretrial release from jail for anyone deemed to be a threat to the safety of an individual or the community
- Law enforcement officers will have clear authority to detain any trespassers on private property if the officer believes that is necessary to discontinue the criminal behavior or the alleged trespasser presents a safety threat
These commonsense changes have received a positive reception from Gov. Pritzker, and I am hopeful we can move them forward in the fall veto session that begins mid-November in Springfield.
I would encourage you to look past the hysteria around SAFE-T Act and talk with your local officials and law enforcement about my legislation as we head toward Jan. 1. My commitment, as always, is to keep our communities safe and to work together across party lines to make a difference.
I urge you to contact me anytime I can help: 708-756-0882, or at http://www.
D-Essex, 40th State Senate District
OpEd: Senator Patrick Joyce (October)