In “The Purge” movie series, one night a year is set aside for Americans to commit any crime they want, including murder, without repercussions. It is an opportunity to both let off steam and “cull the herd” unjustly, as some can afford to defend their homes and families against such a rampage … while others cannot.
The horror franchise is fictional, of course, as no elected official in their right mind would ever enact such a law. At least, that’s what I believed.
The unbelievable will soon happen in my home state of Illinois. On Jan. 1, 2023, at midnight, a very real version of “The Purge” will be enacted via the 2021 SAFE-T Act law. The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act will completely eliminate cash bail for the majority of defendants charged with criminal acts. Judges will decide whether or not to release defendants on a case by case basis, based on if they feel a person poses a threat to the community or is a flight risk. Seeing as many Illinois judges rule like progressive activists, it’s likely they will send many criminals back into communities without hesitation.
We’re not talking about nonviolent crimes like, say, jumping a railway turnstile or even stealing food from the grocery store. This will be no bail or automatic detainment for second-degree murder. Kidnapping. Armed robbery. Drug-induced homicide. Aggravated DUI.
Hardened criminals, charged with everything from threatening a public official to armed burglary to arson, will be emboldened and empowered.
To make matters worse, offenders released on electronic monitoring devices must be in violation of their parole for 48 hours before it will be considered a crime. In the state’s largest county — Cook County, which encompasses Chicago — at any given time, there are more than 3,000 people wearing ankle monitors. This includes about 100 who have been charged with murder.
Chicago’s ankle-monitor program is the largest in the nation and is billed as an alternative to incarceration. More than 75% of those being electronically monitored face violent crime charges. The new law gives all of these criminals a 48-hour pass and means they will have the legal freedom to perhaps murder the witnesses of their crime, and the police cannot respond to their ankle monitor alert for 48 hours. I can hear those “Purge” sirens wailing already.
Law-enforcement officials across the state are sounding the alarm. One mayor, Orland Park’s Keith Pekau, called the act “dangerous” and warned that communities and victims of crime will lose “their constitutional rights.” A number of Illinois state attorneys wrote in the Chicago Tribune that there had been spikes in crimes since the passage of the SAFE-T Act, and the upcoming abolition of cash bail would create major safety issues.
But Governor J.B. Pritzker, who signed the bill into law last year, calls it “Criminal Justice Reform.” Soft-on-crime adherents claim it will reduce the number of people detained in jail while awaiting trial, as so many can not afford to pay for or obtain bail. What it will actually do is bring about nothing but justice for criminals instead of the hardworking residents of the state of Illinois. And it certainly brings no justice for victims.
Meanwhile, Chicago is already seeing a spike in violent crime. As of August 2022, overall violent crime is up 36% in Chicago compared to the same timeframe in 2021. My own baby brother, Christian, was murdered in Chicago on June 24 this year. This law will endanger even more innocent people like him.
Illinois officials responsible for this law will have the blood of every innocent victim on their hands unless they reverse course before Jan. 1. The people most at risk are the very black and brown people they claim to support. But these will be the first victims of the criminals when they are set free.
And it won’t be some absurd horror movie on your TV screen. It will be on our nightly news.
Gianno Caldwell is a Fox News political analyst and the author of “Taken for Granted: How Conservatism Can Win Back the Americans That Liberalism Failed” (Crown Forum).