When Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 3653 into law on Feb. 22, 2021, 118th District State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, was among those who quickly voiced his objections.
The criminal justice omnibus bill, referred to as the “Safe-T Act,” backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, abolishes cash bail, overhauls police certification and reforms use-of-force standards, among numerous other provisions which are to be enacted between this year and 2025.
As the legislature’s new sessions begins, Windhorst is taking action to repeal that bill.
Windhorst led a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 5, to highlight HR 598, a resolution he is sponsoring that calls for the full repeal of the “Safe-T Act.”
Massac County Sheriff Chad Kaylor said HR 598 “backs up his support of us. I’ve known Rep. Windhorst many years and worked with him when he was Massac County States Attorney. He has always supported law enforcement and the job we do. The ‘Safe-T-Act’ that was passed has many problems with it. I agree that the bill should be scrapped and started from scratch to fix the problems that is causing and the future problems that will arise.”
Windhorst said the state is less safe after the sweeping legislation passed in the final hours of the lame duck session of the 101st General Assembly in January 2021.
“As a member of the Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee and as a member of the Illinois House in the 101st General Assembly, I voted against what is known as the ‘Safe-T Act,’ a package of criminal justice reforms that I believe make our communities much less safe and hampers the ability of our police officers to do their jobs effectively,” Windhorst said Wednesday. “Today, I filed HR 598, a resolution that calls for the full repeal of these reforms and a restoration of an attitude fixed on restoring law and order and supporting our law enforcement officers.”
HR 598 urges the Illinois General Assembly “to value and protect crime victims and law enforcement and to repeal House Bill 3653 in its entirety.” It describes in great detail the legislative calendar of events leading up to the eventual passage of the “Safe-T Act.” Windhorst has also requested legislation that would effectively return law enforcement codes back to what they were before Pritzker signed the “Safe-T Act” in 2021.
“Let’s get back to being a pro-police, pro-law enforcement, public-safety-first state,” Windhorst said. “This is something we can achieve by working with our fellow legislators who are seeing rising crime rates in their own communities and by listening to our police officers, police and sheriff’s associations, prosecutors and community leaders in the coming session.”
When the “Safe-T Act” bill came up for vote last year, Windhorst said: “I voted ‘no’ on the bill because there were too many flaws in the bill’s language, the process shut out the public and the changes in the law will make the public and police officers less safe.”
After its passage, supporters and opponents agreed the need for follow-up legislation to address unintended consequences of the the nearly 800-page bill. At that time, Windhorst said, “I will work diligently to make sure the flaws in this newly signed law get corrected.”
Massac County State’s Attorney Josh Stratemeyer said he “wholeheartedly” supports Windhorst’s “efforts of a full repeal of the ‘Safe-T Act’ as this legislation will only prevent law enforcement from being able to do their jobs effectively and will lead to increased crime in our community and throughout the State of Illinois.”
While discussing the passage of HB 3653 last year with the Massac County Commission, Stratemeyer predicted “there may be some trailer bills they pass that cleans up some of that language.”
The first of those was signed by the governor on Friday, Jan. 7.
HB 3512 was filed on Feb. 19, 2021. It was passed by both houses on Wednesday, Jan. 5. HB 3512 “amends the Unified Code of Corrections, provides that the Prisoner Review Board shall be the authority for setting conditions for mandatory supervised release under specified provisions and determining whether a violation of those conditions warrant revocation of mandatory supervised release or the imposition of other sanctions.”
Windhorst noted that “HB 3512 does little to fix the many problems created with the underlying criminal justice reform bill from last January.
“It does not address the pending elimination of the cash bail system next January and the revolving door that will be created at county jails nor does it address the prohibition on police officers arresting individuals for certain criminal violations,” he continued. “Rather than passing additional trailer bills, the better approach would be a full repeal of the problematic portions of the law passed last January and a more complete discussion of any reforms, not the rushed process that we saw last year.”
Also sponsoring HR 598 are Republican Reps. Tony McCombie, Jackie Haas, James Durkin and Tom Weber.