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Will County prosecutor sues Pritzker, others over SAFE-T Act

Democratic Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow filed a lawsuit Friday towards Gov. J.B. Pritzker and different high state Democrats alleging that they violated the state’s Constitution after they pushed via sweeping prison justice reforms final year.

The lawsuit from Glasgow, an outspoken critic of the 764-page Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today legislation, or SAFE-T Act, comes lower than 4 months earlier than a number of provisions of the year-and-a-half-old legislation, together with a controversial measure to abolish money bail, go into impact on Jan. 1.

The swimsuit was filed as Pritzker, who signed the laws into legislation February 2021, faces a contentious reelection bid on Nov. 8 towards GOP challenger Darren Bailey, a state senator from downstate Xenia who’s in search of to repeal the SAFE-T Act.

The different defendants embody Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Senate President Don Harmon. Kankakee County Democratic State’s Attorney Jim Rowe filed a separate lawsuit Friday towards high Democrats, additionally alleging the passage of the legislation violates the state Constitution.

The SAFE-T Act was meant to create a extra honest courtroom system and promote police accountability. Proponents say the elimination of money bail addresses a long-standing drawback that retains poor defendants, principally individuals of colour, locked up whereas awaiting trial as a result of they don’t have the means to make bail.

Starting Jan. 1, judges will weigh a number of elements, together with the menace a defendant poses to the general public, in deciding what defendants should stay in custody.

But Glasgow and the legislation’s different opponents fear the no-cash bail provision will weaken police and embolden criminals. On Friday, Glasgow mentioned in a press release mentioned his swimsuit “is not about politics; it is about public safety.”

Glasgow has been accused of spreading misinformation in regards to the SAFE-T Act, notably by claiming that homicide suspects at the moment in custody will robotically be launched when the no-cash bail coverage goes into impact.

“Sadly, I have received veiled threats over my opposition to this legislation, but I must put the safety of my constituents first,” Glasgow mentioned in a press release Friday. “On this issue, I’ll grab a line from (the late rock star) Tom Petty — ‘You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, and I won’t back down.’”

Glasgow’s 25-page lawsuit alleges Democrats violated a number of sections of the state Constitution, together with its separation of powers clause, based on his office. The swimsuit additionally alleges that SAFE-T Act violates different legal guidelines, together with one pertaining to the “right to have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in denying or fixing the amount of bail.”

Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh on Friday known as the lawsuit a “weak attempt” to guard an outdated system that lets homicide suspects and others accused of violence pay their approach out of jail.

“The SAFE-T Act not only prevents that from happening, but also provides law enforcement officers the tools they need to fight crime, like body cameras, additional training and access to mental health care,” she mentioned.

Spokespersons for Welch and Raoul mentioned the lawsuit was being reviewed.

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