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15th Sep 2022

US state becomes first to pass ‘Purge’ law

Steve Hopkins

US state passes purge law

‘This is about safety for our families….. this is about common decency’

A US state is making history by becoming the first to pass a controversial law, which some have called the ‘Purge’ law, while others argue simply stops “poor people being kept in jail because they can’t pay a bond”.

The ‘Safe-T Act’ – which stands for ‘Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today’ – has been associated with the action horror film The Purge. The 2013 movie centres on the premise that all crime is legal for 12-hours.

The Safe-T Act comes into force in Illinois from 1 January 2023 and is aimed at reforming the midwestern state’s bail system, by removing cash bail for almost all crimes. It will also limit who can be arrested and held in custody depending on the crime they are accused of.

Cash bail will be waived for 12 non-detainable offences, including second-degree murder, aggravated battery, arson, drug-induced homicide and kidnapping.

The Safe-T Act would also allow suspects of these crimes to become eligible for bail.

But, courts will only be able to provide suspects bail if prosecutors don’t present “clear and convincing evidence” that shows that person is a threat to a specific person and/or the general public.

Critics of the law claim that it will make Illinois the “literal purge”, while others have pointed out that it simply stops the state from “keeping poor people in jail because they can’t pay a bond”.

Members of the law enforcement community have also raised concerns over the passing of the act and believe it will worsen crime in Illinois.

DuPage is a county in the state and its attorney, Robert Berlin, shares that view. “I’m very concerned about an increase in violent crime. But again I do want to stress there is still time to fix it,” he said, as reported by Fox 32.

“And the state’s attorneys are working very hard as we have been for the last year and a half to fix this law.

“It is very fixable, where we can still eliminate cash bail but make sure the right people are in custody and everybody else who’s not a danger gets out.”

The change has been called for by some for many years.

According to the Center for American Progress, three out of five people incarcerated in the US have not committed the crime they are suspected of – that’s nearly 500,000 people.

WTTW reported that debate around the law had exploded in recent days as the 2022 election campaign heats up, with viral social media videos and deceptive campaign mailers making all kinds of claims about the 700-page bill.

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