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Cabello: An Unjust Criminal Justice Reform

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Op-Ed by candidate for State House John Cabello – 

As a career law enforcement officer, I’ve had countless difficult conversations with victims and their families. Time and again I’ve promised to do everything in my power to make sure the perpetrator is brought to justice. This obviously comes as little comfort to victims and their families, but at least it’s a glimmer of hope in the midst of otherwise terrible circumstances.

But now it pains me to know I’ll have the same difficult conversations with victims and their families who can’t understand why a hardened criminal was empowered by soft-on-crime politicians. How is that justice?

When the State of New York passed a scaled-down version of the SAFE-T Act, an NBC News article detailed the fallout after one week. In the seven days after New York curtailed cash bail, a woman accused of committing acts of anti-Semitic violence went on to allegedly commit yet another act of anti-Semitic violence. In that same week, according to the report, “[A] serial bank robber, a repeat burglar, a man accused of manslaughter, [and] an alleged hit-and-run drunk driver” were all set free.


But we don’t need to look as far away as New York to see the effects. We need only look to Cook County, where State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has already fostered a de facto criminal carrousel. According to suburban Cook County Mayor Keith Pekau, Foxx runs a “catch and release” program that affords known offenders the opportunity to continue offending with little incentive to think twice before committing the same crimes for which they were charged.

When a young Oak Lawn girl was tragically murdered by a drunk driver, her mother couldn’t understand why the repeat offender who murdered her daughter was allowed to bond out – not once, but several times. In her painful plea for answers, Robinson’s mother spoke with reporters. She said, “I don’t know who is supposed to be the decision of whether [the drunk driver and repeat offender] should or shouldn’t have been free. I’m just a regular person; I can look at his rap sheet and tell he should have been behind bars.”

The murderer’s “rap sheet” included three consecutive criminal arrests in the years leading up to his release, including an arrest related to a felony gun charge. The painful reality is that a 12-year-old girl died only because a known criminal was set free, and that’s exactly the precedent we can come to expect from the SAFE-T Act.

Legislators must recognize that we are accountable to citizens – not special interest groups. We should protect victims of crimes – not the perpetrators. I understand that we want to create a better, fairer justice system, but I can’t understand how a system that disregards the plight of victims, and their families, can in any way be considered “fair” or “just.”

I urge you to immediately repeal Illinois’ unjust criminal justice reform before it’s too late. Illinois families are counting on us to do the right thing.

John Cabello is a Rockford Police Detective and Illinois State Representative who served the 68th District from 2012-2021. A conservative Republican, Cabello earned a reputation as a no-nonsense independent voice for his constituents. John Cabello is currently running unopposed in the IL-90th District.

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