By Todd Marver
The Pretrial Fairness Act provision of the SAFE-T Act took effect on Monday, September 18 after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the elimination of cash bail to be constitutional in July. Illinois became the first state in the country to eliminate cash bail.
Dan Emge, Chief Judge of the 24th Judicial Circuit, said last week that Washington County planned on following the provisions of the SAFE-T Act, beginning September 18. He said there will be detention hearings and conditions of release hearings as needed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.
The Nashville News asked Washington County state’s attorney Dan Janowski last week if he had information on how the county would be handling the implementation of the act beginning September 18 and he responded, “Not at this time.” However, Janowski held a town hall meeting for Washington County residents about the SAFE-T Act and the coming changes to criminal arrest and prosecution last December at the Washington County Judicial Center.
According to Nashville News archives, Janowski said people being held in jail in lieu of monetary bond will continue to be held in lieu of monetary bond if they qualify for a detainable offense. He said they can file a petition to have that reconsidered under the new law.
Janowski said at the time that those being held on a non-detainable offense will probably be released with the conditions as is. He said Madison County state’s attorney Tom Haine referred to it as the greatest jail break in history.
“Most of the prosecutions we deal with are drug possession cases, so we’re not going to be forced to let out alleged murderers. I think there are two people in there that we can hold under the provision of the new law and they’re both people who had guns or ammunition that are felons, so those are non-probationable offenses. We’ve got a couple of people that are on burglary or possession of stolen car charges, so they’ll have to be released,” he said.
State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) issued the following statement as the State of Illinois implemented no cash bail September 18:
“I voted against the elimination of cash bail before it became law. I believe there will be many unintended consequences of this law. Besides the fact that criminals will be put back on the street much faster, individuals faced with drug addiction may not be able to receive the treatment they need in some jurisdictions as they will be put back on the street. Another unintended consequence will affect individuals arrested that have mental health issues. I am talking about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this vulnerable population will be put back on the street instead of being transferred to a state facility for mental health treatment. The unintended consequences of no-cash bail leave some of our local law enforcement and prosecutors with no choice and limited options. With that said, I know our courts, prosecutors, and law enforcement are doing everything they can under the law to keep our communities safe. I will do everything I can to support them and welcome their feedback and suggested improvements to help them enforce the law and keep our communities safe.”