Jackson County State’s Attorney shares his concerns over Illinois’ SAFE-T Act

Illinois lawmakers return as calls for changes to Safe-T Act grow
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (KFVS) - Illinois’ new criminal justice reform plan, known as the SAFE-T Act, goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

The measure impacts pretrial detention, policing and also eliminates cash bail.

During a news conference Monday afternoon, Jackson County State’s Attorney Joe Cervantez shared some of his concerns with parts of the new law.

Cervantez was one of the 60 plus state’s attorneys who signed on to a lawsuit challenging the legality of the SAFE-T Act.

But Cervantez said no matter what happens January 1st, his office will implement it. He also added that his office is not against reform.

“Just 30 days away, we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to do this,” Cervantez said.

Many law enforcement officials still have plenty of questions about the soon to be new law.

And Cervantez is still trying to navigate it he said.

“One of my biggest concerns is not about cash bail specifically, it’s not about people being released from jail with no cash bail. My specific concern is what happens to the people who are not released. My concern is about people who are being held in our county jail with no bond,” Cervantez added.

Cervantez said that he wants to make the criminal Justice system work for everyone.

“Make no mistake, my job is a prosecutor but everyone is in invent until proven guilty. And I don’t believe that a straight no cash bail system pays attention to the one who’s in jail, it focuses on the ones that are out of jail,” Cervantez said.

Illinois criminal justice reform starts on January 1 and local prosecutors are still fuzzy on how the law applies to various defendants.

“My other issues is that the legislature did not advise whether this was a retroactive or perspective, meaning do we apply this to anyone who was arrested prior to 2023. Or do we only apply it to people after 2023 and there still seems to be quite a bit of question there,” Cervantez said.

Cervantez said his office is working on a tighter budget, cuts were made by the Jackson County Board.

Cervantez was also asking for an additional $125,000 along with two more prosecutors and improved technology to help his office navigate the SAFE-T Act.