Senator Elgie Sims (D-17th) late Sunday night, September 11, defended his historic SAFE-T Act bill he says transforms the criminal justice system and is not, as Republicans are pushing out on social media, “a time bomb waiting to happen.”
Sims disputed the “lies” he says Republicans are putting out on social media about the criminal justice reform SAFE-T Act; they are claiming the bill will “open the doors for criminals” to get out of jail to commit more crimes.
Sims, who introduced the bill that was voted on by the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus, said Republicans are using “lies” about his bill to help with their anti-criminal justice agenda.
“They are using the old Republican play card,” he said.
Sims said their allegations about his bill are totally not true and that Republicans are lighting up social media with “lies” because it’s campaign time, and they want this to hinder the Democrats’ turnout come November 8 and strengthen their base.
Sims said the bill, signed by Governor Pritzker last January, becomes law in January, 2023, and that it is a step in the right direction in reforming a broken criminal justice system.
“The Republicans have been saying this since the bill was passed in 2021,” Sims said. Referring to Republicans likening his bill to a “ticking bomb set to go off” at the first of next year, Sims said, “It’s typical Republican talking points.”
Accusing the Republicans of twisting the truth about his bill, Sims said,
“This bill reforms our criminal justice system. It allows for the decertification of bad police officers. It’s not about putting people back on the streets. There is nothing in our SAFE-T Act that will put people (who committed crimes) back on the streets. The elimination of cash bail is not about putting people back on the streets.
“There is nothing in the SAFE-T Act that will open up jail house doors. That is nonsense, and it is not in the law,” Sims said. “What is in the law is a requirement that cash bail will not be taken. That does not mean that somebody will not be detained,” he stated.
“What the law requires is a detention hearing if a crime occurs and the defendant is in custody. A judge must determine a person’s threat to public safety, a threat to an individual or if they are a flight risk,” explained Sims. “If those things are met, the person is held in custody.
“What you are hearing are Republicans and opponents to progress[ive] talking points where they are taking one part of a sentence, which they are misreading, saying this will allow doors to fly open. That is not true,” the Senator stated.
“No cash bail will be taken. Another reason why you hear this push back about cash bail is because the sheriffs and the state’s attorneys get to retain cash bail for their operations. They are opposed to this because it cost them money, but if you are rich and guilty, you can go free. If you are poor and innocent, you can be held in custody. That is why we are eliminating the use of cash bail,” Sims said.
Disagreeing with Sims is Dr. James (Jim) Economos, an Elgin dentist and diehard Republican who calls in on several WVON Black talk shows, claiming that the SAFE-T Act is bad for the residents and businesses. He believes come January 2023 when Sims’ HB Bill 3653 becomes fully effective, it will further drive people out of Illinois.
“If someone does a serious crime and are allowed out of jail without being detained, what’s going to happen? Why is there crime in these big Democratic control areas? People are not being held responsible,” claimed Economos. “We talk about crime in Chicago because we are not being tough on crime,” said Economos, who is a loyal supporter of former President Trump.
He told of a story where “a guy who was arrested and released but after 100 times of being arrested for thefts and other crimes, they couldn’t keep him in jail because of this no cash bail situation,” Economos said.
“Look at downtown Chicago and how bad it has become. Stores are closing because of thefts.” He says Democrats are soft on crime and that the SAFE-T Act is proof.
“I am tired of people leaving Illinois because of high taxes and crime. This whole safety act is not good,” Economos said, blaming it on the Democrats, an allegation often pushed by Trump.
But, according to a recent study from the center-left think tank Third Way, the murder rates are higher in states and cities that are controlled by Republicans. That study showed that states won by Trump in the 2020 election have higher murder rates than those carried by Joe Biden. The highest murder rates are often in conservative rural states.
That study also found that the murder rates in the 25 states Trump won in 2020 are 40 percent higher than in the states Biden won. The five states with the highest per capita murder rate are: Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Alabama, and Missouri. These states voted for Trump, according to the study.
“This bill reforms our criminal justice system, and it puts Illinois in the forefront of a progressive criminal justice system that doesn’t focus on money but rather on public safety,” Sims said.
“If this bill were so bad, you would not see victims’ rights organizations supporting it or domestic violence groups supporting it. This is the law, and it’s been in place for two years and now you’re seeing this uptick in campaign commercials about it because it’s election time,” he said.
Some of Sims’ bill went into effect in July of last year.
Senator Sims urged residents of Illinois to ignore those spouting the “Republican play card because it’s a bunch of lies.”