Some Rockford faith leaders embrace the Safe-T Act and oppose County Board Resolution
Earlier this evening, Thursday Sept. 29, 2022, the Winnebago County Board passed a resolution calling on the Illinois legislature to repeal the SAFE-T Act.
The resolution focused on the Pretrial Fairness provisions of the law, which will end the state’s use of money bond in January of next year.
In response to the board’s decisions, faith leaders from across Winnebago County have put forward their own resolution in support of the Pretrial Fairness Act.
“Right now, hundreds of people are jailed in Winnebago County, not because they’re a danger to anyone but simply because they can’t afford to pay a bond. People are losing their jobs, housing and even custody of their children, making all of us less safe,” said Rev. Frank Langholf of Rockford’s Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
“The Pretrial Fairness Act simply ensures that poor people have the same rights as the wealthy. We are proud to stand by this moral and just reform to our legal system.”
“Wealth-based jailing has disproportionately harmed Black communities across Illinois. Right here in Winnebago County, more than 61% of the people incarcerated in our jail are Black and yet only 15% of Winnebago County is Black,” said Rev. K. Edward Copeland of Rockford’s New Zion Baptist Church.
“The Pretrial Fairness Act addresses this injustice by ensuring that facts and not finances determine who is jailed pretrial.”
“Money bond is extracting wealth from our most marginalized communities who are forced to choose between paying rent or paying a ransom to bring a loved one home,” said Dorothy Reddic of Rockford Urban Ministries, a member of the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice (INPJ).
“The Winnebago County Board decision today ignores the harm wealth-based jailing has caused thousands of families in Winnebago County.”
The Pretrial Fairness Act has been endorsed by more than 100 community organizations across Illinois. The legislation was first introduced in February 2017 as the Equal Justice for All Act and reintroduced during the 2020 legislative session—a full year before it passed. The legislature held three subject matter hearings on ending money bond and enacting pretrial justice reforms between 2019 and 2020. Each hearing included experts, advocates, and law enforcement.
In spring of 2020, the Governor’s Office and legislature also convened multiple working group meetings of all stakeholders to discuss pretrial reform, which included representatives from Probation and Court Services, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, the Illinois State Police, the State’s Attorneys’ Association, and the advocacy community. The changes made by the Pretrial Fairness Act mirror a majority of the recommendations made by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices, whose membership included judges, sheriffs, court clerks, prosecutors, police chiefs, and public defenders.
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