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James Dickinson

Seeking clarity on the SAFE-T Act’s impact on Illinois’ justice system? This article presents 5 facts about the Illinois Safe-Track. Act, cutting to the heart of its implications for legal procedures, policing, and community services. Expect a direct and succinct exploration tailored to your inquiry. This article aims to demystify the SAFE-T Act by exploring five essential facts that highlight its impact on the state's justice system and its commitment to enhancing public safety and fairness.

The Illinois SAFE-T Act represents a landmark overhaul of the state's criminal justice system, aiming to introduce significant reforms across various sectors, including law enforcement, pre-trial detention, and support for victims and communities. As Illinois takes bold steps toward ensuring justice, equity, and safety for its citizens, this comprehensive legislation eliminates cash bail, sets new standards for detention based on serious crimes, and mandates reforms in policing practices. With the Act's implementation, understanding its key components—such as the criteria for detaining individuals charged with serious offenses, the introduction of a "dangerousness standard" for pre-trial release, and changes in handling trespassing violations—becomes crucial for grasping its profound implications on legal procedures and community welfare in Illinois.

What is the Illinois SAFE-T Act?

The SAFE-T Act in Illinois is a comprehensive package of changes designed to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system. Among its provisions are the elimination of cash bail, strengthened measures for public safety, reforms within law enforcement agencies, support systems for victims and communities, as well as initiatives for research and oversight. This legislation aims to transform how our justice system operates by addressing various issues and implementing effective solutions.

Here is a list of five facts you should know about the latest Illinois SAFE-T Act:

By defining detention criteria for serious crimes, the SAFE-T Act enhances public safety. The Act provides clear guidelines for handling trespassing violations and clarifies the court’s authority to enforce electronic monitoring conditions and address escape issues. By doing so, it ensures that the law is both clear and enforceable, enhancing public safety and creating a more effective criminal justice system.

The SAFE-T Act:

  • is a vivid testament to Illinois’ commitment to safeguard its citizens
  • ensures justice and equity
  • provides clear guidelines and definitions
  • brings transparency and accountability to the justice system
  • significantly enhances public safety.

Crimes Included in the “Detention Net”

Among the list of crimes where a person is denied pretrial release include arson, second-degree murder, kidnapping, and criminal sexual assault.  

Understanding the “Dangerousness Standard”

The “dangerousness standard” is determined by how much of a threat a person poses in the community. “Real and present threat to the physical safety of any person or persons” includes a threat to the community, person, persons, or class of persons.   

Hearings for Current Detainees

To make the process "manageable for courts," legislators proposed a tiered system for granting hearings on such requests. The hearings would then determine whether a current detainee should be released. The tiers would include:

  • Lowest level offenses hearings must be within 7 days of request.
  • Those detained but considered flight risks would get hearings within 60 days.    
  • Those considered to be potential threats to safety get hearings within 90 days.   

Trespassing Violations

Under the latest proposal, an officer can arrest someone for trespassing if:

  • The person poses a threat to the community or any person;
  • An arrest is necessary because criminal activity persists after the issuance of the citation;
  • The accused has an obvious medical or mental health issue that poses a risk to their safety.

SAFE-T Act or (Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act)

Defendants are presumed to be eligible for pre-trial release under the new Illinois SAFE-T Act. If a prosecutor wants to hold a defendant in pre-trial detention, they will have to petition the court for a pre-trial detention hearing that must take place within 48 hours of the defendant being taken into custody.  At the pre-trial detention hearing, the prosecutor must show that the defendant presents a threat to a specific person or is a flight risk.    

Defendants will also have access to their phones to get phone numbers and make three phone calls once they are detained.  The Safe-T act also includes reforms in several other areas, including:  

Policing reforms

Policing Reforms

  • Limits to the use of force, including bans on chokeholds  
  • All officers will be required to wear body cameras by 2025  
  • All officers will be required to wear body cameras by 2025
  • An expanded misconduct database  
  • The removal of police discipline from the collective bargaining process  
  • The prohibition of purchasing certain types of military equipment  
  • The expansion of police officer training    

Prison Reforms

  • Additional sentence credit for educational programs  
  • Additional work release options      
  • If detained, access to cell phone for phone numbers along with three phone calls  
  • Increased support for pregnant prisoners  
  • Additional activities of daily life will be allowed while on electronic monitoring  

Sentencing Reforms

  • Reduction in the length of parole for certain offenses  
  • Certain convictions for felony drug offenses will be treated as misdemeanors to access diversion and probation programming.      

Crime Victims’ Compensation Reforms

A broader definition of victim and an easier process for cash compensation to victims. Additional details on the SAFE-T Act can be found here:  Illinois Criminal Law Update: The 2021 Illinois Criminal Justice Reform Act

What Does No Cash Bail Mean in Illinois?

Cash bail is a part of the criminal justice system in the United States.  In most states, cash bail is used to encourage defendants to engage in certain behaviors after they have been charged with a crime.  Typically, this would include making all court appearances and following specific rules set by the court, such as no contact provisions and no drugs or alcohol, to name a few.    

The defendant pays the clerk of the court a certain amount of cash set by the judge.  If the defendant does not follow the rules of the bail bond, they forfeit this money.    

The cash bail system in Illinois is abolished as of January 1st, 2023, meaning that lack of monetary funds will no longer present a barrier to release pending trial in Illinois.    

If a person is arrested after January 1st, 2023, the Safe-T Act will apply to them, and they may be released if the prosecution cannot show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant poses a threat to a specific person or that they have a high likelihood of willful flight.    

Where Does Bail Money go in Illinois?

Until the SAFE-T Act goes into effect, cash bail is paid directly to the circuit clerk of court.  Illinois follows the ten percent rule, which means that ten percent of the total amount of bail set must be paid in cash to the clerk of court.    

What States have Ended Cash Bail?

Bail reform has been taking place throughout the country, and multiple states have made changes to their cash bail systems. Illinois will be the only state to end cash bail in total as of 2023.    


California has reformed the cash bail system in their state.  Cash bail still exists in California. However, defendants cannot be held solely because they cannot afford the bail set by the court.  The standard in California is that clear and convincing evidence of a necessity to protect public safety must be shown to hold a defendant in detention.

New Jersey:  

New Jersey has modified its cash bail system so that defendants have a presumption of release. However, cash bail can still be set in some cases.  New Jersey uses a computer system to determine the risk of recidivism and sets bail by considering this.

New York:  

New York still has cash bail; however, it has limited it to more severe criminal charges. Nonviolent and misdemeanor charges are not subject to cash bail in most cases. New York is the only state that sets bail alone to ensure defendants make their court appearances. New York does not consider whether a defendant is a public safety risk when setting bail.


Illinois will be the only state with no cash bail in any circumstance as of January 1, 2023. Although Illinois will have no cash bail, defendants may still be detained pre-trial after a pre-trial detention hearing.


The Illinois Safe-Town. Act is undeniably a game-changer in the realm of criminal justice reform. From eliminating cash bail to enhancing public safety through stringent detention criteria, the Act is a formidable step towards a more equitable justice system. It champions transparency and accountability in law enforcement, provides support for crime victims, and ensures robust research and oversight initiatives.

The Act is a testament to Illinois’ commitment to justice and equity, setting a precedent for other states to emulate. As we move forward, the SAFE-TIME is on the way. Act serves as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards a justice system where fairness, not wealth, is the deciding factor.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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