More Petitions to Follow in Anticipation of SAFE-T Act Taking Effect
(Lake County, IL) Today, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office announced that, pursuant to the SAFE-T Act’s new detention system, it has filed detention petitions against the 46 murder defendants in the Lake County Jail that are being prosecuted by the office. Officials also announced that they had filed 35 petitions against all detained individuals charged with sex crimes and against all 51 accused felony domestic batterers currently being prosecuted by the office.
If granted, this round of petitions would ensure that no defendants charged with murder, a sex offense, or felony domestic battery are released from jail awaiting trial.
To prepare for the new detention system, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart has asked prosecutors to file all petitions as early as possible so that the hearings can be scheduled between now and January 1, 2023.
Hearings will be conducted by the trial judge and trial prosecutors who are already familiar with the currently detained defendants.
“Everyone deserves to be safe in all communities across Lake County. The SAFE-T Act will keep violent offenders in custody regardless of how much money they have in their wallets. By filing our petitions now, we are giving the courts ample time to schedule hearings on the current jail inmates. We are following the recommendation of the Illinois Supreme Court Task Force and working with our other justice partners to take proactive steps in advance of January 1, 2023. These steps will make Lake County safer by keeping violent criminals in jail, where they belong.” Rinehart said.
Officials will continue filing additional petitions for those charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, weapons offenses, shooting offenses, armed robbery, attempt murder, home invasion, and other violent felonies. Further petitions will be filed based on changes that occur during the legislative veto-session currently underway in the General Assembly.
Senator Adriane Johnson added, in response to the filings, “The SAFE-T Act will make our communities safer and address decades of race and class disparities in our justice system. I was proud to support efforts to pass these public safety reforms in the Senate on behalf of the diverse communities of Lake County. State’s Attorney Rinehart has been a credible partner, understanding his office’s critical role in this reform. State’s Attorney Rinehart and the many outstanding public servants in the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office should be commended for taking the initiative to protect families of Lake County by making sure that we are ready for the new law.”
For new arrests that occur after January 1, officials expect 7-8 detention hearings a day. The County Board recently approved increased funding for the courts, the Sheriff, the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Circuit Clerk’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office to prepare for the change. The increase in resources did not lead to an increase in property taxes.
Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart stated, “The SAFE-T Act makes Lake County safer because it means that violent criminals, domestic batterers, and sex offenders and others who could harm our community can’t buy their way out of jail. County staff and the Board worked with the leaders in the local justice system to ensure we are ready on January 1, when portions of the SAFE-T Act go into effect. We are providing additional resources to our Sheriff and State’s Attorney so that Lake County families can be assured that their communities will remain safe and thriving. “
A handful of murder defendants are being prosecuted by a special prosecutor from the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s Office. For questions regarding those few cases, the media may contact that office.
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