Cook County Board candidates Trevor, Podgorski weigh in on SAFE-T Act
While any changes to Illinois' criminal justice reform bill known as the SAFE-T Act remains an issue for state lawmakers to decide, the legislation will have a significant ripple effect on the county-run court systems.
The two candidates for the Cook County Board District 9 seat soon to be vacated by Republican Peter Silvestri recently weighed in on those implications.
Democrat Maggie Trevor of Rolling Meadows said she has concerns about the legislation, but added that "many of the things that it's trying to accomplish are necessary reforms."
But Republican Matthew Podgorski of Chicago called the measure "extremely misguided."
The most controversial component of the SAFE-T Act is the elimination of cash bail as of Jan. 1. Instead of setting bail, judges will determine whether a person accused of a crime needs to be detained while awaiting trial or can go free.
Trevor said that will keep people "from being essentially warehoused" simply because they lack the money for bail.
"I think the concerns that many people have about dangerous criminals being let go is important as well," she added. "And I think that some known problem areas should be addressed."
Podgorski noted that county commissioners can't repeal the SAFE-T Act, but they can let their voices be heard. He fears that the elimination of cash bail will cause already rising crime rates to increase more.
"This hasn't even gone into effect yet. Wait until it does," he said.
"It's not 100% bad. When you have a bill that has 100 items in it, you're going to randomly find some that are good," Podgorski added. "It might have some good intentions. But I think it's extremely misguided."
Podgorski said the county already does a poor job determining who can go free on electronic monitoring.