Illinois SAFE-T Act Faces Opposition While Supporters Want More Change

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Under the SAFE-T Act, someone has to directly cause the death of an individual for them to be indicted on murder charges. So far, the SAFE-T Act has relieved two men of possible murder charges in Illinois.

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Courtesy of Michael Linden (Flickr CC0)

Last year in Illinois, there was a change to the Felony Murder Law as part of the SAFE-T Act. The criminal justice reform bill set out to redefine who would be liable for a person’s death. Committing murder is a severe crime that guarantees a minimum sentence of 20 years. In December of last year, Travis Andrews opened fire on someone, and Melinda Crump died in the crossfire. He is now only facing weapons charges because of the law change and faces 15 years in prison.

There were no indictments returned for the murder [charge] based on that change in the law.

Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy still pushed for Andrews to be held without bond because of his actions leading to Crump’s death. The Illinois attorney’s office has yet to comment, and the case is still ongoing.

Opposition to the New Law

Supporters of the act say it can help to curb destructive legal system practices such as “overcharging to coerce guilty pleas.” In addition, the act seeks to save those who had no intention of murdering anyone during their crime. The public defender’s office believes that the old felony murder law unjustly handed down decades to Illinois defendants. Even with the murder charge gone, some think the remaining consequences are still too harsh.

Specifically, the felony murder rule has enabled the state to prosecute people for someone else’s actions, and sometimes even the state’s own actions.

Opponents of the act say it does not help victims get justice and closure for their families. Some believe the law removes part of the responsibility for a person’s death, intentional or not. Republicans like House Leader Jim Durkin criticized the SAFE-T Act and called for its repeal. He believes “delusional demagogues of the defund the police movement” are behind the new law. He also thinks the bill “created a consequence-free environment for criminals in Illinois.” Supporters fired back at Republicans for misinterpreting the bill’s purpose.

The SAFE-T Act “only ensures someone is culpable for first-degree murder before they face our state’s harshest possible punishment.”

Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

The Chicago Sun-Times: State law change means man accused of starting shootout that killed bystander won’t face murder charges; by Matthew Hendrickson
The Chicago Sun-Times: Another man won’t face murder charge after change to state law; Republicans say SAFE-T Act should be repealed; by Matthew Hendrickson

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Matthias Müller’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Michael Linden’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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