The Illinois Supreme Court voted 5-2 to uphold the controversial SAFE-T Act, positioning Illinois as the first state in the nation to completely eradicate the use of cash bail. The court's ruling, overturns a Kankakee County judge's previous decision.
The SAFE-T Act, initially scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023, had been placed on hold due to an ongoing legal battle. However, with the Supreme Court's recent decision, the emergency hold on the law will be lifted on September 18, allowing local governments a 60-day window to prepare for the elimination of cash bail.
The ruling comes after a coalition of State's Attorneys filed a lawsuit against the state, asserting that a constitutional amendment would be required to abolish cash bail. They argued that the Illinois Constitution's bail clause, which guarantees bail through "sufficient sureties," necessitated a change. However, the Supreme Court sided with the state, affirming that the SAFE-T Act does indeed provide alternative means to ensure defendants' appearance in court.
State Senator Steve McClure of Springfield said, “It’s disappointing that the Supreme Court overruled our state’s constitution and the will of the people of Illinois by upholding the SAFE-T Act. This ruling is just one more blow to the credibility of the Illinois Supreme Court, particularly after two of the justices accepted a million dollars from the main proponent of the Act—Governor JB Pritzker. This is yet another victory for the people who choose to commit crimes in our state. Where are the victories for the victims?”
The elimination of cash bail has long been a contentious issue in the United States, with supporters lauding the ruling as a transformative step towards a fairer and more equitable justice system, while critics express concerns about potential risks to public safety and argue that alternatives to cash bail may not be sufficient in ensuring court appearances or preventing repeat offenses.
"Our freedoms are being stripped by the progressive agenda, and we need to stand together and fight back with comprehensive solutions which protect our citizens and gives authority back to our law enforcement officers;" said State Representative Wayne Rosenthal. "The people of Illinois deserve to live their lives without fear. Families depend on our laws to protect them and keep them safe; abolishing cash bail does just the opposite"