SAFE-T likely increasing costs for courts, police


Legislation eliminates some fees, increases departmental costs through seven-day-a-week courts

CLINTON — New Illinois legislation, some of which already has taken effect, could place an extra burden on the DeWitt County legal system.

States attorney Dan Markwell briefed the county board recently about the additional expense the county will incur because of the law.

The Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2021 and was intended as a sweeping reform of parts of the criminal justice system, including pre-arrest diversion, policing, pretrial, sentencing, and corrections.  By-and-large, law enforcement agencies around the state have not been receptive of the changes, expressing frustration the Act sets severe limits on the ability of agencies to perform their jobs.

The pretrial fairness portion of the act takes effect in January 2023.

“It’s going to affect law enforcement greatly,” Markwell said last week.  “But, it’s also going to affect the county financially.”

Markwell said the county board likely would see increases in funding requests for several departments when the board begins budget planning later this year.

The county no longer will be able to charge the $80 processing fee when subjects are booked into the jail. 

“We won’t be able to charge anything,” Markwell said.  “So, that’s going to be a big hit.”

The courts’ office will no longer receive 10 percent of cash bonds posted by subjects who are formally charged.  This is because the Act also prohibits the use of cash bonds beginning Jan. 1.

“We’re going to have to look at those former income streams and see.  If you go back a few years and take the average, we can kind of calculate what our losses will be,” Markwell said.

        • See the complete story in the Friday, July 29 print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.

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