ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley has joined a host of other Illinois state’s attorneys in challenging the constitutionality of the state’s new “no cash bail” provision in the SAFE-T Act.

“I cannot ignore that, as currently drafted, this law is unconstitutional. Further, it will create unjust results and does not protect the public. Accordingly, it is my duty as your State’s Attorney to fight it,” Hanley said.

Last week, the Winnebago County Board voted against supporting Illinois controversial SAFE-T Act law, which would eliminate cash bail statewide on January 1st, 2023.

The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, or the SAFE-T Act, was introduced by the Illinois Black Caucus as part of Black legislators’ response to the murder of George Floyd, and was passed by the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives in the early hours of Jan. 13, 2021.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill into law on Feb. 22 of that year, whereupon it became known as Public 101-0652.

The act abolishes the money bail system beginning Jan. 1, 2023. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the cash bail system disproportionately impacts Black and brown communities and other underrepresented or impoverished groups, who can’t afford bond.

Someone who is arrested after Jan. 1 may be released prior to their trial, based on the assumption of innocence guaranteed in the United States Constitution. However, a judge will have the power to determine whether a person should be released based on a public safety evaluation rather than the size of the defendant’s wallet.

Certain crimes, including forcible felonies, stalking, and domestic abuse, guarantee the revocation of pretrial release; meaning, they will not be released after arrest. This is outlined in the act’s section 110-6.1.a.

Many Illinois law enforcement agencies have warned the act will embolden criminals and make it harder for police to keep offenders off the streets.

State’s attorneys from Jo Daviess, Ogle, McHenry, Brown, DuPage, Kankakee, Will, Knox, Vermillion, Greene, Scott, Sangamon, Jersey, Moultrie, Douglas, and Effingham counties, have all filed lawsuits against the state, claiming the “pretrial fairness” provisions in the law changes 40 different state statutes.

Hanley said he expects the numerous county lawsuits will be consolidated into one so that a court ruling would be applicable to each county simultaneously.

Hanley’s suit, which names Gov. Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, House Speaker Emanuel Welch, and Senate President Donald Harmon as the defendants, says the Pretrial Fairness provision violates the state’s single subject rule; violates the Illinois constitution; violates the rights of victims; interferes with the court’s supervisory and administrative responsibilities; the passage of the law violated the “three readings” clause in the Illinois Constitution; and is unconstitutionally vague.

“Though I am not a proponent of returning to a cash bail system, I will remain a vocal critic of this current version of the law because of its shortcomings,” Hanley said.

Hanley said he would prefer Illinois adopt New Jersey’s model, which keeps the most violent offenders locked up while still reducing the jail population. “Prosecutors have said it’s working,” Hanley said.

Hanley also said that New Jersey put the choice to amend the state constitution and adopt the law to voters, unlike in Illinois, where it was passed by legislators in the early morning hours of January 13th, 2021.

Hanley previously said that approximately 400 inmates currently held in the Winnebago County Jail would be released under the new law, on January 1st.

Users on social media recently began likening the SAFE-T Act to the horror movie series “The Purge.”

The “Purge” movies take place in a dystopian future where the American government legalizes any and all criminal activity, including murder, for an annual 24-hour period.

Critics have scoffed at the “Purge Law” moniker.

Gov. JB Pritzker has defended the law, saying it would make release impossible for people accused of the worst crimes.

“No one is getting let out of jail on Jan. 1,” Pritzker said. “That is not what the SAFE-T Act does. There is no such thing as a non-detainable offense. That is not in the SAFE-T Act.”

“The SAFE-T Act is designed to keep murderers and rapists and domestic abusers in jail,” Pritzker said. “Right now they can buy their way out, we want to keep them in jail with a Pre-trial Fairness Act.”

Advocates for the abolishment of cash bail view it as a pillar of institutional racism within the criminal justice system.

“That’s just inequitable that some people get to be free because they have money and other people have to remain incarcerated, which has all kinds of terrible consequences for people’s ability to work, for their housing, their whole families suffer,” said Ben Ruddell, ACLU of Illinois, according to WLS.

Law enforcement across Illinois has come out in opposition against the law, saying it adds protections for criminals and not society at large.

If the elimination of cash bail does not prove to benefit the state, Illinois may in the future create legislation to amend the pretrial release system. Loyola University, with help from the National Institute of Justice, is studying the SAFE-T Act’s implementation and will analyze the effectiveness of the new pretrial release system over the first year.

One part of the law would create co-responder programs in cities across Illinois, which would be made up of law enforcement, mental health professionals, and social workers.

It also includes more investment in mental health services and trauma centers.

The new law also increases training standards for law enforcement and requires body cameras for departments statewide. Republicans are claiming that those increased standards will lead to increased property taxes.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has said his office is in discussions about “a number of issues” with the state’s SAFE-T Act, and changes could be made to the language of the law before it takes effect.

Gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey (R) met with Illinois Sheriffs in September and promised to repeal the law if he is elected.

Illinois is the first state in the country to completely abolish cash bail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.