This election season, Republicans across the country did what they do every election season, try to freak people out over violent crime. Republican politicians in Winnebago County were no different. Here's Winnebago Co States Attorney Jay Hanley in his own words.
September 12, 2022 - State's Attorney: More than half of Winnebago County Jail to walk out door Jan. 1
On Jan. 1, 2023, it is estimated that more than half of the inmates in the Winnebago County Jail will walk out the door. Approximately 400 criminal defendants will be released back into our community because our Illinois legislators passed the “SAFE-T Act” back in 2020.
So, what can we do about it? …….. First, the effective date of the law should be delayed at least six months. ………… Once delayed, our legislature should start over.
Please call your legislators and advocate for such action — but don’t call me — or the sheriff.
We aren’t responsible for letting over half the jail population walk out the door on Jan. 1.
December 1, 2022 (before the Illinois General Assembly amended the SAFE-T Act) - SAFE-T Act advocate defends no cash bail as it faces challenges in the courtroom and the statehouse | Northern Public Radio
“I regrettably probably contributed to this in a way that I do regret,” Hanley said. “It's not going to be a purge.”
Hanley said implementing the law will be challenging. The legislation requires prosecutors to petition a judge for a detention hearing within 48 hours of a defendant’s initial hearing. Defendants would also have a right to legal representation in the proceedings under the law.
“It's a tough time to be an employer of attorneys and particularly government attorneys, and staff,” Hanley said.
“And so, in an environment where we're already short staffed, we have a statute that's going to put tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves, the public defender's office, the judiciary and pretrial services.”
He said counties throughout the state will face hard times financially with the loss of cash bond.
“If I'm arrested for a crime, I post my $5,000, I end up pleading guilty, and let's say I get probation, my fines and costs might equal $3,000,” Hanley said. “That's taken from the bond that I posted. And so, it's almost more of a collection issue.”
December 8, 2022 (after the clarifying amendments everyone knew would be filed, were passed) - Rockford-area state's attorney contemplates dropping out of SAFE-T Act lawsuit Hanley, a Republican, said he does not regret writing the op-ed, but said, "I do regret to any extent that I contributed to that kind of (misinformation) hysteria."
He added, "It was an important lesson for me. Maybe I was a little bit naive in how I message things, particularly when advocating for legislation."
A little bit naive? Hanley knew exactly what he was doing. He and his friends have been playing the crime card for decades. Thankfully this time it didn't work.