KANKAKEE – State’s Attorney Jim Rowe announced Friday a lawsuit filed in Kankakee County Circuit Court asking that HB3653, the “Safe-T Act”, be held unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey and the people of Illinois, names Governor JB Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul as Defendants.
“This lawsuit should not be necessary”, said State’s Attorney Jim Rowe, adding that “I surely believe that freedom should not hinge upon one’s ability to pay a bond, and that the criminal justice system is in dire need of reform, including bail and beyond. However, regardless of whether you agree with or reject the many reforms of the Safe-T Act, or even how we may each interpret them, one thing is certain: you cannot amend the Illinois Constitution without a referendum or Constitutional Convention (Illinois Constitution, Article XIV).”
The Safe-T Act is set to go into effect January 1st of next year, ends cash bail in Illinois and would allow potentially violent criminals to remain free until trial. Other articles included in the act range from use of force, complaints and misconduct, and other various police provisions.
Critics of the law have cities the act’s ability to hinder law enforcement efforts to protect the public while giving potentially violent offenders a free pass.
“From the day HB3653 was signed into law, law enforcement sounded the alarm about how dangerous this legislation would be to law abiding citizens throughout Illinois.” Kankakee Sheriff Mike Downey said in a release Friday. “Unfortunately, that alarm has fallen upon deaf ears in Springfield. This lawsuit aims to correct these concerns and to simply ensure the process is done in the light of day and in accordance with the Illinois Constitution.”
“The Safe-T Act has effectively amended this section of the Illinois Constitution without a referendum vote of the people. The Legislature does not have that power. This lawsuit and the Illinois Constitution beg our legislators to do what is right and follow the process: give the people their right to vote,” said Rowe. “It gives this Office no joy to file this lawsuit and I do so with some trepidation, well aware of how it may be responded to by those in powerful positions; just know that we welcome criminal justice reform done properly at the will of the people, and we pray that can still be accomplished.”
Rowe encourages all Illinois residents to read the Safe T Act for themselves.
“It is a lengthy read, no doubt, but you should read it for yourself so you can fully comprehend its breadth and impact. The importance of this issue is worth the investment of your time.”