Pritzker, Bailey spar over SAFE-T Act

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 5:50 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Gov. JB Pritzker and Sen. Darren Bailey continue to battle over the best way to address crime in Illinois. Violence is frequently discussed during any election season, but people across the political spectrum are debating about what will happen when cash bail is abolished on Jan. 1.

Many people across the state are sharing a meme about the SAFE-T Act created by a conservative blogger that is full of misinformation. Now, both candidates are trying to tell their supporters where they stand.

“The SAFE-T Act is designed to keep murderers, and domestic abusers, violent criminals in jail,” Pritzker said during an unrelated press conference Wednesday.

Pritzker also stressed that the law championed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus will address problems in the current criminal justice system where wealthy murderers, domestic abusers, and criminals can buy their way out of jail by paying bail. Many Black and brown people are currently left in jail for years after minor crimes or wrongful accusations of criminal activity simply because they can’t post bail like their wealthy counterparts.

“We’re also addressing the problem of a single mother who shoplifted diapers for her baby who is put in jail and kept there for six months because she doesn’t have a couple of hundred dollars to pay for bail,” Pritzker said.

Still, Republicans like Bailey want to repeal the SAFE-T Act as soon as possible. Bailey and several other GOP lawmakers in both chambers introduced proposals to repeal the law over the past year. However, those efforts have been blocked by the Democratic supermajority. Bailey is focusing his attacks on Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

“The three musketeers of crime, chaos, and dysfunction care more about making life easier for criminals than their number one responsibility - keeping honest residents safe,” Bailey said.

Although, Republican lawmakers and many state attorneys are not being honest about what the SAFE-T Act truly does. Many have shared a list of “non-detainable offenses” starting Jan. 1. However, there is no such thing in the law. In fact, judges will play a significant role in deciding to revoke pretrial release for people arrested for forcible felonies, domestic abuse, stalking, or anyone who poses a threat to people and the community at large.

The viral meme with false information about the SAFE-T Act.
The viral meme with false information about the SAFE-T Act.(WFCN Facebook page)

Bailey spoke with reporters Wednesday just feet from the scene of a mass shooting on Chicago’s South Side that left two people dead and seven injured Tuesday night. While Bailey is currently focused on crime in Chicago, he argues that a purge will spread into communities across the state if Pritzker is re-elected.

Bailey said being governor means you have to show up, roll up your sleeves, and make sure things get better. He claimed that Pritzker doesn’t know what is happening in his state, specifically when it comes to the SAFE-T Act.

Pritzker admitted Wednesday that the SAFE-T Act isn’t perfect. Still, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can agree that there are frequently trailer bills to address minor issues or errors with initial language.

“Are there changes or adjustments that need to be made? Of course,” Pritzker said. “And there have been adjustments made and there will continue to be. Laws are not immutable.”

Democrats have already passed three trailer bills since the SAFE-T Act was signed into law. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said Wednesday that Pritzker shouldn’t be trusted if he can’t explain how the law needs to be changed. It’s clear Bailey and other top Republicans will keep crime as a top issue leading up to the November election.

“JB, how many more Black families have to mourn before you recognize that Black lives really do matter?” Bailey asked. “How many parents need to pick out caskets when they should be picking out clothes for school?”

Members of Acclivus, Inc, a community anti-violence group, confronted Bailey after his press conference in Washington Park ended. Organizer Bamani Obadele told Bailey and running mate Stephanie Trussell that it is shameful to use the recent shooting as “some type of political football on the deaths of innocent people.”

Bailey took business cards from the organization and Trussell said they would like to meet with the advocates to discuss better ways to address crime. Rev. Janette Wilson told Trussell that Bailey had never been in that community before to help address violence.

Bailey is currently living in a high-rise apartment in downtown Chicago. The downstate senator explained he wants to fully immerse himself in the culture of Chicago. Local leaders and advocates are concerned that Bailey consistently refers to Chicago as a “hellhole.”

“He didn’t come here with any other solution. He’s living downtown in an ivory tower talking to people here on the South Side,” Obadele said. “If he wants to impress us, move into Washington Park.”

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