More Than Half The Nation Wants A Crackdown On Violent Crime, Poll Suggests

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Trevor Schakohl Legal Reporter
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More than 75% of probable voters said they would not likely back candidates supporting policies that stop police from detaining criminals charged with violent offenses, according to a new poll, with a state measure set to potentially free some violent crime suspects.

About 76.9% of respondents said they would not be at all likely to vote for a candidate supportive of such policies toward criminals facing violent charges like kidnapping and armed robbery, according to the September poll by the Trafalgar Group partnered with Convention of States Action. Illinois’ Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFETAct is set to permit the bail-free release of people accused of kidnapping, aggravated battery and other crimes punishable by probation next year, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz told ABC 20.

Less than 60% of poll’s Democratic respondents claimed they would not be at all likely to cast a vote for a candidate if they back policies preventing police detention of criminals for violent crimes such as kidnapping and armed robbery, compared to 88% of Republicans. More than 62% of those from every specified ethnicity and age group surveyed gave that response.

Many Illinois state’s attorneys have criticized the SAFE-T Act in recent weeks. (RELATED: ‘The Whole System Is Broken’: Former Judge Sounds Off On Memphis Crime Wave)

“[The Act], literally passed in the middle of the night in an effort to mute any opposition or compromise by the super-majority buoyed by a group of moralistic activists set on undoing hundreds of years of bail law, is the worst criminal justice bill I have ever seen,” McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Not only is it so poorly written as to be unintelligible in a number of places, in practice it is going to get a lot of people hurt and undermine the court’s ability to hold accountable dangerous people doing cruel and destructive things.”

A representative for DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin referred the DCNF to his Sept. 7 DuPage County Daily Herald guest column about the SAFET Act. Berlin said he and other state’s attorneys had asked the Illinois General Assembly to give judges discretion in detention hearings to no avail.

“The fact is, by determining that certain violent crimes do not qualify for pretrial detention, regardless of a defendant’s danger to the community, the Illinois General Assembly has removed judicial discretion from the equation and imposed their own will instead,” Berlin wrote. He called for a change similar to New Jersey’s cashless bail system, in which judges can detain people for any crime with sufficient cause.

The Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s office showed support for Berlin’s suggestions.

The SAFET Act‘s sponsor Illinois House Representative Marcus Evans Jr. told ABC 20 that prosecutors who would allow bail “are saying ‘this person is not a danger to society.’ ” He said authorities cannot determine if someone accused of a probational violent crime is a threat when bail is a possibility.

The poll had a 2.9% error margin.

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