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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Windhorst: "I have been a leading voice in opposing the end of cash bail"

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Illinois State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) published a press release regarding amendments made to the SAFE-T Act, which he posted to Facebook on Dec. 1.

"I have been a leading voice in opposing the end of cash bail, as I believe it will lead to an increase in crime in our state," Windhorst wrote in his press release. "I have also been a staunch opponent of the SAFE-T Act's provision that potentially forces victims of violent crime to appear at pretrial detention hearings within 48 hours of the crime that was committed against them, putting them back in the same room with their perpetrator. I believe allowing anonymous complaints against police officers and using those anonymous complaints as a way to fire police officers denies our law enforcement officials due process."

"The SAFE-T Act still contains unworkable and unsafe flaws, despite all of the follow-up bills that have come through the House and Senate since 2021. I have sponsored legislation that would repeal the original SAFE-T Act, and believe that because of the many problematic parts of the law that will remain in place, repeal is the best way to ensure the safety of our communities going forward," Windhorst continued.

The post contained a link to a YouTube video of Windhorst addressing his fellow state representatives and urging them to vote against the proposed amendments.

"Throughout this process, the proponents have claimed that the elimination of cash bail and the SAFE-T Act is an effort to give judges discretion to detain those who judges considered to be dangerous or likely to flee the jurisdiction, but that's not what the SAFE-T Act does, and that's not what this bill does," Windhorst said.

"What we are doing is adding to a laundry list of potentially detainable offenses. We've created a detention net. That detention net still has holes. If we want judges to have discretion, give them discretion. Allow judges to hold individuals that they believe are dangerous or likely to flee the jurisdiction. Instead, we've chosen a different route, and what that means is we'll see those holes in the detention net, and we'll be back in a year to try to patch the hole, and then we'll find another hole, and we'll be back in a year and try to patch that hole," he continued.

Windhorst also spoke to WTTW News regarding the issues that he sees in both the recently passed bill and the SAFE-T Act, while seeing many of the changes made as "vindication."

“For the last several months, we have been accused of misleading people, being disingenuous, being fearmongers," Windhorst told WTTW News. "And then I read this amendment, and most of the issues that we raised are included. Detainable versus non-detainable offense, we were told ‘there’s no such thing.’ And then you read specific offenses we mentioned as listed in the bill. We were correct in what we were saying in raising those flaws.”

Windhorst ultimately voted against House Bill 1095, which contained the amendments, although it still advanced in the Illinois Senate and is currently awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker's (D-IL) signature.

Windhorst is a Metropolis resident who has served in the Illinois House since 2018. His legislative experience includes serving on both the Restorative Justice Committee and the Judiciary-Criminal Committee.

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