McHenry County sues over SAFE-T Act

McHenry County is now the third county in Illinois to sue the governor and Illinois attorney general over the elimination of cash bail passed as part of the SAFE-T Act, McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally announced Monday.

The lawsuit claims that the "764-page, ideologically decadent, and typo-ridden bill" that became the SAFE-T Act "goes too far constitutionally," violating the state's Constitution in a number of ways.

The bill failed to confine itself to a single subject, "unconstitutionally trenches upon the separate powers of the judiciary" in the arena of bail and pretrial release, and violates Crime Victim's Rights, the complaint alleges.

Kenneally's lawsuit follows two others filed by the state's attorneys in Will and Grundy counties last week. The law, which was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Feb. 22, 2021, and went into effect July 1, 2021, has become a focus of Illinois Republicans ahead of the November elections.

Kenneally claimed in a news release that defendants charged with second-degree murder, fentanyl trafficking and a host of other crimes could no longer be detained ahead of their trials and, if they failed to show up for court, a warrant could not be issued for their arrest.

But a judge can prohibit pretrial release for any suspect who is deemed a threat to the community or a flight risk.

Rep. Justin Slaughter, a Chicago Democrat and the law's House sponsor, told Capitol News Illinois that the language regarding detainable offenses is "unclarified," and his plan is to address it in follow-up legislation this fall

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