Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell spoke at the Sangamon County GSL meeting.

Sangamon County, Illinois Sheriff Jack Campbell addressed about eighty gun owners at a Guns Save Life meeting in Springfield Monday evening. He talked about the Land of Lincoln’s upcoming effective date of the so-called SAFE-T Act, otherwise know as no cash bail. On January 1st, the state will do away with cash bail for nearly all crimes, including second degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, and more.

It’s going to be messy.

Sheriff Campbell had nothing good to say about the new law or the people who passed it.  He began his presentation telling folks that the new law will result in a hundred or more inmates being released on New Year’s Day, almost all of whom were charged with serious drug or violent crimes.

What’s more, he noted that everyday people have good reason to be worried. And every county in the state — all 102 of them — is in the same boat.

Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell.

“You gotta protect yourself,” the Sheriff said. Campbell reminded folks that a firearm was the most effective tool for self-defense. Safety can be in your hand in seconds when help is minutes away.

At the same time, he advised — in the strongest possible terms — to put the gun away or holster it before the deputies roll up on scene. “Do what you have to do to protect your family,” he said.

What is this new law? On social media, many call it “The Purge” law because bad guys will essentially have a get-out-of-jail-free card. Arrests for theft, burglary, drug charges, whatever…all will result in the immediate release of the suspects, no matter how much property or merchandise was stolen or how much drugs were found.

“You could have ten kilos of heroin and we would have to release you,” he said.

The New York Post had a good story about the new law’s pending implementation . . .

In “The Purge” movie series, one night a year is set aside for Americans to commit any crime they want, including murder, without repercussions. It is an opportunity to both let off steam and “cull the herd” unjustly, as some can afford to defend their homes and families against such a rampage … while others cannot.

The horror franchise is fictional, of course, as no elected official in their right mind would ever enact such a law. At least, that’s what I believed.

The unbelievable will soon happen in my home state of Illinois. On Jan. 1, 2023, at midnight, a very real version of “The Purge” will be enacted via the 2021 SAFE-T Act law. The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act will completely eliminate cash bail for the majority of defendants charged with criminal acts. Judges will decide whether or not to release defendants on a case by case basis, based on if they feel a person poses a threat to the community or is a flight risk. Seeing as many Illinois judges rule like progressive activists, it’s likely they will send many criminals back into communities without hesitation. 

We’re not talking about nonviolent crimes like, say, jumping a railway turnstile or even stealing food from the grocery store. This will be no bail or automatic detainment for second-degree murder. Kidnapping. Armed robbery. Drug-induced homicide. Aggravated DUI.

Hardened criminals, charged with everything from threatening a public official to armed burglary to arson, will be emboldened and empowered.

Billionaire Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the new law into effect in February under the guise of “Criminal Justice Reform.”

To make matters worse, offenders released on electronic monitoring devices must be in violation of their parole for 48 hours before it will be considered a crime. In the state’s largest county — Cook County, which encompasses Chicago — at any given time, there are more than 3,000 people wearing ankle monitors. This includes about 100 who have been charged with murder.

Chicago’s ankle-monitor program is the largest in the nation and is billed as an alternative to incarceration. More than 75% of those being electronically monitored face violent crime charges. The new law gives all of these criminals a 48-hour pass and means they will have the legal freedom to perhaps murder the witnesses of their crime, and the police cannot respond to their ankle monitor alert for 48 hours. I can hear those “Purge” sirens wailing already.

On the streets, Sheriff Campbell isn’t expecting folks to show up for court dates, either.  Then again, under the new law, police can’t get an arrest warrant for missing the first court date. The court will send out a letter setting a new court date and asking “pretty please” for the defendant to appear. Again.

This all began in 2017. That’s when the Illinois General Assembly passed an “Affordable Bail” law which dramatically lowered pre-trial bail amounts. Gone are the days of serious bail amounts for serious crimes.

Today, those arrested for most crimes are released on little or no bail. Yes, sometimes they are sentenced to home confinement, but few have to post more than a few hundred bucks to gain their freedom until their court date.

That program has proven itself an unmitigated failure. In Chicago alone so far this year, police have identified 43 bad guys out on “affordable bail” for felony crimes who have shot (or set afire) 80 innocent victims. Nineteen of those victims have died. Across the state, those released on affordable bail have gone on to commit tens of thousands of new crimes, up to and including murder while on pre-trial release.

In a state where anti-gun legislators love to promote further gun control by tugging at the heartstrings with comments like, “If it saves just one life,” we all see a conspicuous lack of action and remedying this bad “affordable bail” legislation.

But instead of fixing it, the General Assembly doubled down on stupid by eliminating cash bail for all arrestees unless they pose a specific threat to a specific individual.

So, for example, if a couple have a domestic and one slaps the other, the aggressor stays in jail until trial. If the domestic violence escalates and the aggressor kills his or her spouse, then he (or she) is no longer a threat to a specific (living) person and therefore must be released. Without bail.

This is what passes for logic in Illinois.

Yes, there’s some weasel language in the bill that allows a prosecutor to petition a judge to hold someone by getting creative about threats against specific persons, but there are a lot of hoops to to through to make that happen, all of which must be completed within 48 hours. Smaller state’s attorneys aren’t going to have the time to handle these sorts of petitions on top of their existing workloads.

Even better, the law is retroactive. So, on January 1st at 12:01 AM, county jails will release just about everyone being held on bail.

Governor J.B. Pritzker says the new law protects new mothers from getting held in county jail because they can’t post bail after stealing some diapers. Sheriff Campbell took a question from an audience member asking how many new mothers they arrest for shoplifting diapers.

Campbell laughed. “Never. Not a one. And even if we did make an arrest, we would never take them to jail. As it is now, we release virtually all non-violent offenders as it is, and the courts release some others, too.”

The lawman also spoke about the Illinois State Police’s history of revocation of FOID Cards without due process. They contacted him and offered his department some grant money to seize revoked and expired FOID cards along with those individuals’ guns. Campbell laughed. “I told them they could keep their money. We’re not doin’ it.”

“We’re here for you,” Cambell said. And he and the men and women of his department profoundly appreciate the support of the community in general and gun owners in particular.

“I’m just a temporary occupant in this office,” Sheriff Campbell told the audience. “But the people I hire and promote are my legacy.”

As for the no cash bail law, he implored folks to contact their legislators and urge them to repeal the new law.