New laws passed to reform broken systems

Police officers shaking a Gresham residents hand.

Gresham Police Department

Police officers shaking a Gresham resident’s hand.

Jose Serrano, Staff Writer

    Safety is something we all need and in the Portland metro area many feel their safety has been in jeopardy as shootings and other violent crime rates rise.  According to, there were 1,314 shooting incidents in 2021, which is up from 413 incidents in 2019.  Also according to news, violent crime is up more than 38% and has outpaced the rest of the United States.  Other states, like Illonois, have also been dealing with an increase in violent crime and shootings.  To help with public safety, the Governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker recently passed the SAFE-T ACT  which stands for Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity Today.  

   Some of the larger parts of the SAFE-T ACT include: the  abolishment of cash bail, the mandate of police body cameras by 2025, a ban on police chokeholds, and new guidelines for police “decertification”. Some citizens in Illinois, and other states like Oregon,  have started to worry about the ramifications of such a bill on their daily lives.  

   With cash bail abolished, some opponents believe the crime rate could increase, as people who are wealthy have the same chances of release as the non-wealthy. Problems may arise as the judge has the power to decide whether you get sentenced or released based on their opinion and they believe you will function in society. 

  “I think people will evacuate (the state) as the economy lowers with (criminals) having a higher release rate (because of this bill),” sophomore Diego Ortiz-Hernandez said.

With this new act, judges have more power in court, and bail is eliminated, which could be problematic.

   “I don’t like that it seems that the decision is made from the judge’s perspective, and to be able to determine that in a short amount of time in one experience with a person accused of the crime,” history teacher Amanda Williams said. “ I feel like that has red flags written all over it and I worry that the wrong judgment will be placed which can cause further problems.”  

One reason cash bail has been abolished is because many prisons  in Illinois, and other states, lack the capacity and funds to keep prisoners in a cell.  The average cost of this ranges from $100 to $200 per day for each prisoner.

“There’s already a prison problem in Illinois but they gotta do what they gotta do, you know. There’s no space, there’s nothing we can do about it.” sophomore Brayden Tzo said “They can’t build any more prisons. There is no prison space, and they have decided to make arrests less frequent.” 

Because of the SAFE-T Act, officers in Illinois  will be mandated to wear body cameras by 2025. Portland is the only major US city without police body cameras, but it will soon have a similar mandate as included in the SAFE-T act, a pilot program for Portland Police officer body cameras began in August of this year.  

      While Oregon may still need to do more to increase safety, there have been recent bills passed in hopes of reforming the criminal justice system.  Senate Bill 1510 and Senate Bill 1584 passed 2021, include payment towards those who are wrongfully convicted and have served time, and eliminating police officer “stops” for drivers who have  one headlight, one tail light, or one brake light.

 “I believe this is accept for as long as turning signals are visible, as drivers still have one light to see and one light to be seen. But, with this, officers may have to check lights during a traffic stop,” sophomore Damien Sherrill said.