TOP News

Politics: Illinois lawmakers OK crime bill cleanup, plan ends bail

Fire plan would cut 2.4 million New Jersey Pinelands trees

  Fire plan would cut 2.4 million New Jersey Pinelands trees BASS RIVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Up to 2.4 million trees would be cut down as part of a project to prevent major wildfires in a federally protected New Jersey forest heralded as a unique environmental treasure. New Jersey environmental officials say the plan to kill trees in a section of Bass River State Forest is designed to better protect against catastrophic wildfires, adding it will mostly affect small, scrawny trees — not the towering giants for which the Pinelands National Refuge is known and loved.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly approved followup clarifications of their watershed criminal justice overhaul Thursday, appeasing critics by adding numerous offenses to a list of crimes that qualify a defendant to remain jailed while awaiting trial.

State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, center, testifies before the Senate Executive Committee on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, on his legislation to clarify the SAFE-T Act, a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that notably eliminates cash bail. Accompanying Peters are co-sponsors Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, left, and Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign. The amendment to the law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023, adds a number of forcible felonies to the list of crimes which qualify a defendant for pretrial detention, but Republicans still have concerns about it. (AP Photo/John O'Connor) © Provided by The Associated Press State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, center, testifies before the Senate Executive Committee on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, on his legislation to clarify the SAFE-T Act, a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that notably eliminates cash bail. Accompanying Peters are co-sponsors Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, left, and Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign. The amendment to the law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023, adds a number of forcible felonies to the list of crimes which qualify a defendant for pretrial detention, but Republicans still have concerns about it. (AP Photo/John O'Connor) State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, talks to reporters after an Executive Committee hearing on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Springfield, Ill., about legislation to clarify the SAFE-T Act, a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that notably eliminates cash bail. McClure says the amendment improves the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, by adding a number of forcible felonies to the list of crimes which qualify a suspect for pretrial detention, but he still is worried the law puts the public at risk. (AP Photo/John O'Connor) © Provided by The Associated Press State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, talks to reporters after an Executive Committee hearing on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Springfield, Ill., about legislation to clarify the SAFE-T Act, a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that notably eliminates cash bail. McClure says the amendment improves the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, by adding a number of forcible felonies to the list of crimes which qualify a suspect for pretrial detention, but he still is worried the law puts the public at risk. (AP Photo/John O'Connor)

Senate action followed by the House came on the final day of the Legislature's fall session and exactly one month before the Jan. 1 effective date of the so-called SAFE-T Act. The act notably changes one fundamental tenet of state jurisprudence by eliminating the posting of a cash bond — a practice long used to ensure the accused appears at trial, but which critics says penalizes the poor.

GOP to grill Biden judicial nominees on Second Amendment, allowing ‘dangerous’ criminals out on bail

  GOP to grill Biden judicial nominees on Second Amendment, allowing ‘dangerous’ criminals out on bail The Senate will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine Biden's judicial nominees, some of which will face GOP criticism for their soft-on-crime track records.Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will preside over the hearing for six of Biden’s judicial nominees, just a handful of the dozens of nominees Democrats hope to confirm in the lame-duck Congress before the nominations expire next year. Several of these nominees are expected to get pushback from Republican lawmakers.

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, asks questions during a committee hearing on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Springfield, Ill., about legislation to clarify the SAFE-T Act, a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that notably eliminates cash bail. Republicans worry that the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, would allow dangerous criminals out on the street when they should be detained awaiting trial. (AP Photo/John O'Connor) © Provided by The Associated Press State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, asks questions during a committee hearing on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Springfield, Ill., about legislation to clarify the SAFE-T Act, a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that notably eliminates cash bail. Republicans worry that the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023, would allow dangerous criminals out on the street when they should be detained awaiting trial. (AP Photo/John O'Connor)

The goal of the proposal, which still awaits the expected signature of a supportive Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, is to detain dangerous people while they await trial while not locking up those who pose no threat but sit in jail simply because they can't afford bail, according to proponents.

11-Year-Old California Girl Who Was Allegedly Tortured and Murdered Weighed 48 Lbs.

  11-Year-Old California Girl Who Was Allegedly Tortured and Murdered Weighed 48 Lbs. Aarabella McCormack, 11, died in August; her foster mother and maternal grandfather were later charged in her deathAn 11-year-old girl who died after suffering child abuse and malnourishment weighed 48 pounds, court documents reveal.

In the Senate, sponsoring Sen. Robert Peters, a Chicago Democrat, recalled that Atticus Finch, the color-blind defense attorney in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird," said that courage is knowing “you're licked before you begin ... but you see it through.”

“We're seeing it through no matter what,” Peters said. “Illinois on Jan. 1, 2023, will make history — civil rights history.”

Democrats easily put up the 3/5th majority vote required by the Constitution to make the plan effective immediately while Republicans could only mock them for having to return repeatedly to make corrections or clarifications.

Emerging after the Minneapolis police beating death of George Floyd in May 2020, the SAFE-T Act sets rigorous new training standards for law enforcement, spells out rules for police use of force in immobilizing troublesome suspects, requires body cameras on all police by 2025 and more.

Milwaukee parents blame DA John Chisholm’s bail push for son’s death

  Milwaukee parents blame DA John Chisholm’s bail push for son’s death A Milwaukee couple whose son was killed while riding with a speed demon and repeat felon ripped the county’s DA, who has fought for relaxing bail laws. Danari Peer, 20, was killed on Oct. 5 while riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by Jai’Quann McMurtry, who was flying down the street at 109 miles per hour when he hit a tree, ABC7 reported. Jai’Quann McMurty pleaded not guilty to second-degree reckless homicide.dailymail.co.uk McMurtry, who was previously arrested for three felonies related to cocaine and gun possession, was out on bail when the crash occurred, the station reported. He received a $1,000 signature bond and $500 cash bond.

Much of Thursday's focus was on sweeping cash bail out the door, following a handful of states that prohibit or restrict it, including California, New Jersey, Nebraska, Indiana and New York.

“The General Assembly has upheld the principles we fought to protect, including bringing an end to a system where those charged with violent offenses can buy their way out of jail, while others who are poor and charged with nonviolent offenses wait in jail for trial," Pritzker said in a statement.

But while Republicans agreed that adding crimes to what the law calls the “detention net” greatly improved matters, they remain worried about the risks of potentially releasing dangerous criminals. They also expressed concern about the short timeline for judges and prosecutors to prepare for the changes, and what they see as as the flight into retirement of law enforcement officers over objectionable parts of the act.

Sen. Steve McClure, a Springfield Republican and former prosecutor, acknowledged the improvements made by Peters and Democratic co-sponsors Sen. Elgie Sims of Chicago and Scott Bennett of Champaign. Among the changes, the clarifying legislation expands the detention net to include forcible felonies and those not eligible for probation, along with those accused of hate crimes and other serious offenses.

"A ticking atomic bomb": The Cold War legacy lurking in U.S. groundwater

  Even after regulators say cleanup is complete, polluted water and sickness are often left behindIn America's rush to build the nuclear arsenal that won the Cold War, safety was sacrificed for speed.

But like much of the debate since the SAFE-T Act was approved in the wee hours' finish of a lame-duck session in January 2021, Thursday's debate was largely over semantics — for instance, burglary.

Republicans said burglary should be included in the detention net, Democrats claimed it already is. During floor debate, Peters pointed out the page and line number, which includes “burglary where there is use of force against another person," a redefinition of burglary, noted McClure.

“That’s robbery,” McClure replied. “If you go into somebody’s unattached garage, or a business or into somebody’s car, those are all regular burglaries where you’re not threatening the use of force on somebody else.”

Those suspected of such burglaries, when set free, have little reason not to commit another such offense, he said.

Republicans pounced on the repeated changes to the law despite Democrats' claims that it was solid. Peters' legislation marks the third so-called “trailer bill” designed to clean up misunderstandings in the past two years.

In the House, Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, a Republican from the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, took a shot at Chicago Democratic Rep. Justin Slaughter, who during debate in April on the plan he sponsored, complained of “the stench of racism coming from that side of the aisle,” identifying Republicans.

“We did object to taking bad utopian legislation that historically has never worked and saying that somehow our practical, common sense objections to legislative language that we knew was going to create problems ... were based on racism was offensive,” Mazzochi said.

Another change sets up a timeline after New Year's so that those incarcerated this month may request hearings to be eligible for the new process and perhaps be released. Priority is to be given to low-level nonviolent offenders.

___

The SAFE-T Act legislation is HB1095.

___

Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

Disturbing Details Found In Katherine Hall's Autopsy Report .
Sean Vincent Gillis declared himself a "monster," and the shocking details found in Katherine Hall's autopsy report support that claim. Here's what was found.The late '90s and early 2000s were a chilling time for people living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Daily Mirror reports that between 1994 and 2004, a serial killer stalked the streets and left a string of gruesome murders behind him. The murders exhibited similar tactics ranging from chilling dismemberment to a particular placement pattern of the bodies.

See also