Controversial Law Eliminating Cash Bail Slammed With Ruling From Illinois Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Illinois has officially placed a hold on a highly controversial law that seeks to get rid of the cash bail system for a laundry list of crimes.

The SAFE-T Act (Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act) was slated to go into effect at 12:01 am on New Year’s Day. This past Saturday evening, however, the court initiated a stay order to “maintain consistent pretrial procedures” while the gathered justices are given time to debate the issue. In the middle of last week, one judge from Kankakee County ruled that cashless bail was entirely unconstitutional and that the policy would not be put in place in any of the counties that issued lawsuits to block the measure. Kwame Raoul, an attorney general stated that he would step up to appeal the decision.

“Had the SAFE-T Act gone into effect on January 1, 2023, while litigation is pending, the administration of justice in Illinois would have been uneven, thus harming the citizens of the state,” explained DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jaime Mosser via a joint statement.

On Friday, the counties made sure to file an emergency motion seeking to suspend the law prior to the finalizing of the current litigation.

“Only the Supreme Court’s final decision on the merits will be binding on all Illinois courts,” stated Raoul in a release. “It is important to note that the order issued today by the court is not a decision on the merits of the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act, and I appreciate the court’s interest in expediting the appeal. We look forward to mounting a robust defense of the constitutionality of the law and ensuring that it goes into effect across the state.”

As of writing, the state’s  high court has not elected to set a date for their hearing of the appeal.

As the sponsor of the bill, Democratic state Sen. Elgie R. Sims, Jr. stated that it is just an avenue to “fundamentally change” the criminal justice system for the state of Illinois, labeling it as “a big, bold, complex, transformational agenda.”

As reported by NBC 5 Chicago,  the new SAFE-T Act was written by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and came to light after George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police officers in May 2020. In the document are included reforms to law enforcement training, statewide elimination of monetary bail, and accountability.


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