Wednesday, September 28, 2022

UPDATED: Pritzker falls back on misleading fact-checks, including one that cites his press secretary, to defend pro-criminal SAFE-T Act

Despite continuing denials from Governor J.B Pritzker and other Illinois Democrats, the SAFE-T Act, which goes into effect on New Year's Day, will almost certainly lead to an increase in Illinois' already high crime rate. The bill eliminates all cash bail in the Land of Lincoln. Even the fact-checkers, a propagandistic lot, agree on the end of cash bail. Where will that lead? Well, there's a divergence in opinion.

More on the fact-checkers in a bit.

James Glasgow, the state's attorney for Will County told Fox Chicago's Mike Flannery earlier this month, "There are forcible felonies that are not detainable: burglary, robbery, arson, kidnapping, second degree murder, intimidation, aggravated battery, aggravated DUI, [and] drug offenses." 

Of Illinois 102 county prosecutors--their formal title in Illinois is state's attorney--100 of them oppose the SAFE-T Act. At least three of them have sued to prevent the law from being implemented, claiming the SAFE-T Act is unconstitutional. 

And last week in his Chicago Way podcast, former Cook County assistant state's attorney, John Curran, slapped down the liberals' knee jerk defense that flight risks can be locked up while they await trial under the SAFE-T Act, "The problem with that,” Curran, who is now a Republican state senator, explained to Kass, "is to show that someone is a willful flight risk the prosecutor has to prove that they are planning or attempting to intentionally to evade prosecution by concealing oneself. That is never going to happen," adding, "You literally have to catch them with the plane ticket in their pocket going to the airport."

The commercials from the People Who Play By The Rules PAC and the mailing of newspapers critical of Pritzker, which focus on crime, must be having an effect, as the governor, who is up for reelection in November, is pushing back. Along with Illinois' attorney general, Kwame Raoul, Pritzker is saying that he is open to amendments to the SAFE-T Act. But they offer no specifics, so it's safe to assume the Dems simply want to run out the clock. Illinois' lapdog media won't press Pritzker on that, which is not surprising, as the SAFE-T Act has not been seriously vetted by them.

Fact-checkers, which operate as kind of an Oracle of Delphi for the media, have weighed in. And Pritzker is using them to bolster his argument. 

Madison County state's attorney Thomas Haine, in a letter to residents, said the SAFE-T Act would be the "greatest jailbreak" in history. That led Pritzker to respond, "But your reading of the law has been debunked by multiple non-partisan fact checkers, including the Associated Press, Snopes, and PolitiFact." Pritzker, a lawyer who I am unsure if has ever practiced law, then goes on to say why the prosecutor is wrong.

About those fact-checks. The least awful of them, by Nur Ibrahim of Snopes, is accompanied by the headline, "Does Illinois’ SAFE-T Act Make Some Violent Crimes Non-Detainable Before Trial?" It's rated "mostly false." She doesn't interview anyone, but she references the far-left Center for American Progress and a state agency, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. 

At PolitiFact, Jeff Cercone laughably utilizes as one of his experts, Jordan Abudayyeh, who is Pritzker's press secretary, in his fact-check, titled "Under new Illinois law, these crimes are 'nondetainable': 'Burglary, robbery, arson, kidnapping, DUI offenses, even DUI involving a fatality, most drug offenses, and even 2nd degree murder.'" Cercone also cites two criminology professors in that fact-check. "Mostly false" is PolitFact's rating of the concerns about the SAFE-T Act.

I was unable to locate an Associated Press fact-check of the SAFE-T Act. However, I found one at AFP USA, which didn't label it "true or false," but here is the headline of Natalie Wade's piece, "Misleading claims about Illinois cash bail law circulate online." Like Cercone, she interviewed three people, including one of the criminology professors the PolitiFact fact-checker interacted with, and one of the co-sponsors of the SAFE-T Act, as well as a public defender in Cook County. 

None of these fact-checkers spoke to prosecutors, county sheriffs, or any police officials, current or retired. Fair and balanced? C'mon man! Which adds even more fuel to my solid belief that fact-checkers are first and foremost propagandists. 

UPDATE October 3:

Nate Trela of USA Today on Friday offered us his fact-check of the SAFE-T Act. Not surprisingly, he rates the catch-and release claims from prosecutors and others as false. I'll give him credit, he actually did his job, get both sides of a story. Well, sort of. Trela interviewed by email and telephone J. Hanley, the Republican state's attorney of Winnebago County, and noted that Hanley opposes the SAFE-T Act. "The new law says suspects charged with felonies designated as Class 3 or above can still be detained before trial if prosecutors can demonstrate they pose a risk of fleeing," Trela notes as a point of agreement between Hanley and Sarah Staudt, the director of policy at the Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts, s liberal do-gooder group.

Trela also spoke with Sharlyn Grace, a senior policy adviser in the Cook County Public Defender's office. Let's just say that Grace is not likely a lock 'em-up-and-forget-you-did-so type. 

The Rockford Register Star, like USA Today, is owned by Gannett. Odd thing, well, actually it isn't. Trela doesn't even reference Hanley's op-ed, which is accompanied by this headline, "More than half of Winnebago County Jail to walk out door Jan. 1."

From Hanley's piece:
Under the new law, entire categories of crime, such as aggravated batteries, robberies, burglaries, hate crimes, aggravated DUIs, vehicular homicide, drug induced homicides, all drug offenses, including delivery of fentanyl and trafficking cases, are not eligible for detention no matter the severity of the crime or the defendant’s risk to a specific person or the community, unless the People prove by clear and convincing evidence the person has a “high likelihood of willful flight to avoid prosecution.”

Additionally, in cases involving non-probationable forcible felonies, such as murder and armed robbery, judges may only detain a defendant under the new law if the prosecution proves by clear and convincing evidence the defendant "poses a real and present threat to the safety of a specific, identifiable person or persons."

Hanley continues as he compares the SAFE-T Act to a New Jersey law:

Unlike our new law, New Jersey allows judges to detain persons for any crime where the prosecution proves the defendant i) will not appear in court, ii) poses a danger to any other person or the community, or iii) will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, intimidate, or attempt to threaten, injure, or intimidate a prospective witness or juror.

While New Jersey’s law has its detractors, many have found it appropriately balances a defendant's presumption of innocence against the court’s interest in the fair and orderly administration of justice and the community’s safety. It is certainly a much better law that the one currently set to take effect here in Illinois.

As I mentioned in my post last week at Da Tech Guy, John Curran, a former Cook County assistant state's attorney who is now a Republican state senator, dismissed the flight risk defense used by SAFE-T Act supporters. "The problem with that, Curran told John Kass in a Chicago Way Podcast episode, "is to show that someone is a willful flight risk the prosecutor has to prove that they are planning or attempting to intentionally to evade prosecution by concealing oneself. That is never going to happen," He added, "You literally have to catch them with the plane ticket in their pocket going to the airport."

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