Friess: Now Democrats Want Our Help

In January 2020, the Democrats rammed through their criminal justice reform bill known as the SAFE-T Act. The bill passed at the 11th hour of a lame-duck session with limited debate and no Republican support. Since its passage, several trailer bills were ushered through to “fix” problems with the legislation. These efforts are failing. Unfortunately, in Illinois, “criminal justice reform” translates into decriminalizing certain offenses and eliminating or reducing cash bail for others. The effects of the Democrats’ criminal justice reform are clear: higher instances of violent crime and an increase in crime overall.

On Tuesday, January 18th, I participated in my first Judiciary – Criminal Committee Hearing of this session. The theme of the meeting put forth by the Chairman of the committee was “collaboration” which I found offensive. The Chairman also called for understanding the “facts, data, research, and scholarship” of criminal justice issues together. This statement was laughable as Republicans have long been calling for just that. The Democrats have pushed through legislation without consulting a single Republican for years, and now, as the effects of their folly become clear, want our help?

If Democrats would have simply taken the time to consult with Republicans on these issues and work across the aisle, perhaps a compromise could have been reached. The SAFE-T Act might have benefited Illinois communities. Instead, the effects of this bill are evident. The legislation is a failure, and crime and lawlessness have increased across the state. The Democrats act as if they now want Republican collaboration on future legislation after intentionally excluding us in the past. Time will tell if they are serious.