Deposit reform workshop on Wednesday evening answers questions about the SAFE-T law

OST ST. LOUIS, Illinois — Questions about Illinois’ bail and detention laws prompted so many comparisons to a horror film that several supporters will answer questions at a forum in East St. Louis Wednesday night.

“Oh yeah, the barber’s holding me, you know,” laughed Brotha Dre, organizer of Black Men Build’s East St. Louis Hub.

Dre prides himself on his afro and his haircut, but he knows the hair salon can also be the starting point for heated debates.

“Some people would like to tie the SAFE-T Act to the Purge Act.”

He was referring to the fictional horror film The purge by Universal Pictures, where serious and deadly crimes were temporarily legal. He also referred to the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity Today Act and the Pretrial Fairness Act.

Both laws abolish cash bail and provide guidelines for judges to decide who to release and who to keep in prison pending trial. Both laws will come into force on January 1, 2023. Dre shared that myths about the law spill over from social media into real-life conversations.

“Actually, it was just word of mouth hearing people in the neighborhood, especially at our barbershops,” revealed Dre.

In September 2022, Madison County, Illinois Attorney Tom Haine told FOX 2 and KLPR News 11 that the new laws would affect public safety.

“The risk to innocent civilians would no longer be a reason for a judge to arrest someone charged with first-time kidnapping or first-time burglary; even second degree murder, arson.”

“This is so wrong,” said Marie Franklin, a former member of the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, which helped push the legislation through the Illinois General Assembly.

“You have to provide information and provide evidence that that person poses a threat and that gives the judge the ability to arrest a person.”

By 1997, Franklin was also an officer with the Illinois State Police. She shared that she conducted a traffic stop where the driver had a warrant for outstanding video rental fees. Decades later, Franklin expressed that Stopp still haunts her.

“I had to arrest him because the warrant was out and he had a small child with him. He needed $500 to get out of jail, which he didn’t have — and my hands were tied.”

Black Men Build will host a workshop on the new laws, where Franklin will speak. JD Dixon of social justice group Empire 13 will also speak. He heard and saw similar comparisons for the bail bond reform laws.

“I’ve seen videos,” Dixon shared. “I’ve even heard people in our community call it the Purge Act.”

Justice Quarterly published a report in 2011. It named Cook County, Illinois, as one of five counties where black inmates face bail amounts thousands of dollars higher than white inmates.
The report states that this resulted in blacks waiting in prison longer than whites before trial.

Dixon said that is why he will be at the forum on Wednesday evening.

“Particularly in the black community, it’s imperative that we know our rights, that we know our laws, that we know the laws that directly affect us on a daily basis.”

SAFE-T and Pretrial Fairness Acts Workshop

Wednesday 30 November 2022

7:00 p.m. CST

Trinity United Methodist Church

1411 Missouri Ave.

East St. Louis, MO 62201 Deposit reform workshop on Wednesday evening answers questions about the SAFE-T law

Sarah Y. Kim

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