In the 2013 movie “The Purge,” crime was legalized for a 12-hour window every year, ostensibly to “purge” society of its worst elements. Murdering, thievery, grand theft auto, rape, drug trafficking, you name it, all allowed with zero consequences – but only for an annual 12-hour period. Effective Jan. 1, 2023, a version of the scenario depicted in the fictional dystopian film could become a full-time reality in Illinois if legislation, passed after the summer of George Floyd, is not repealed.
Some background: On Jan. 13, 2021, during the post-election lame duck legislative session, a 764 page opus known as Illinois HB 3653, ironically called the “SAFE-T Act” (Safety, Accountability, Fairness, Equity – Today Act), was rushed through by Democrats in the state capitol. There was no mandate from the electorate. It barely had enough votes to pass, even in the extremely lopsided Democrat-majority Springfield legislature.
“The law passed in the wee hours of the morning,” recalled Republican State Rep. Tony McCombie.
“[The Democrats] cut off debate. They didn’t appear to have the votes as it took several minutes to browbeat their members to their switches [voting button] to call the final vote.”
But it passed in both houses and was signed into law with great fanfare by Democrat Gov. JB Pritzker.
The legislation is a veritable wish list for progressives opposed to the very idea of incarceration – or even effective policing.
To start, criminal suspects arrested on charges ranging from petty theft to murder (yes, murder) will no longer have to post bail, because cash bail will go away entirely. Will judges be able to keep obviously dangerous defendants in jail? Only when, to quote the language in the legislation, “the defendant poses a real and present threat to a specific, identifiable person or persons, or has a high likelihood of flight.”
That suggests that if you kill your wife, for instance, you can be let out of jail while you await trial, posting no bail, because, well, she’s now dead, and you don’t “pose a threat” to any other “specific” individual. If you are unsuccessful in your murder attempt and only maimed your wife, as she is still alive, yes, a judge can keep you in jail, but only because your wife survived your assault.
To reiterate, crimes that harm “society at large” will not cut it, according to the language in the SAFE-T Act. As Ogle County State’s Attorney Mike Rock explains:
“A serial drunk driver who repeatedly drives on our streets while impaired must be released because we cannot specifically identify the individuals they are putting at risk. The same applies to drug dealers, gun traffickers, felons in possession of guns, serial arsonists, and many other violent criminals.”
This is not hyperbole. Even some Democrats are sounding the alarm. “If that bill [the SAFE-T Act] goes into effect … police officers’ hands will be tied,” warns Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, a Democrat. “What you see in Chicago, we’ll have here . It’s going to be literally the end of days … I’ve got 640 people in the Will County jail. All their bonds will be extinguished on January 1. And 60 are charged with murder. And many others with violent felonies.”
The good news is that it’s not too late to do something about it.
“You as the electorate, need to demand anybody running for election in November needs to vote to repeal this bill,” Glasgow continued.
“It will destroy the state of Illinois. I don’t even understand the people who supported it, why they can’t realize that.”
This is what happens when a legislative body dominated by one political party is combined with a severe anti-cop, soft-on-crime default position that has become orthodoxy on the left. It’s a toxic stew of bad ideas and bad judgment that at best breeds a culture of crime complacency, and at worst a clarion call for societal anarchy.
“This law will continue to destroy the once beautiful and thriving city of Chicago,” said McCombie.
“The crime rate will grow in the suburbs and eventually seep into our more rural areas, ultimately bringing Illinois’ complete destruction.”
State’s attorneys must act, and demand that Springfield repeal the SAFE-T Act immediately. Every Democrat state representative and senator must swallow their pride and admit they made a terrible mistake when they passed this bill during the 2021 lame duck session. And more than anyone else, Gov. Pritzker, up for reelection this November and testing the 2024 presidential waters, needs to step up, be a leader, and fix this. Now.
More and more Illinoisans are demanding it: A Facebook page calling for the repeal of Illinois HB 3653 has already gained over 51,000 members and is growing. If the SAFE-T Act is not repealed, Pritzker and everyone who made it law will have blood on their hands. And come this January in Illinois, the movie “The Purge” won’t feel like fiction if you live in our state.