Cash Bail Abolished: Illinois Supreme Court Upholds SAFE-T Act

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CHICAGO, IL — After eight months, it’s official, cash bail is a thing of the past as the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the Safe T Act constitutional Tuesday.

Governor JB Pritzker expressed his satisfaction with Tuesday’s ruling on the Pretrial Fairness Act, upholding the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act and the elimination of cash bail. 

“We can now move forward with historic reform to ensure pre-trial detainment is determined by the danger an individual poses to the community instead of by their ability to pay their way out of jail.” Governor Pritzker said in a statement Tuesday morning following the ruling. “My thanks to Attorney General Raoul’s office and the many people who worked tirelessly over the last months to defend these important reforms. I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly and our many other partners as we transition to a more equitable and just Illinois.”

The decision allows the state to move forward with groundbreaking reforms that prioritize public safety and fairness in pretrial detainment.

Effective from September 18, 2023, the SAFE-T Act’s implementation aims to shift the determination of pretrial detainment from an individual’s financial capacity to their potential danger to the community. This decision has sparked both support and disappointment among various stakeholders.

While some applaud the court’s decision, believing it will lead to a more equitable and just Illinois, others, like Kankakee County’s Jim Rowe, express concern about the impact on public safety. However, the ruling stands, and Rowe commits to continuing the county’s service to its residents.

“Despite the defeat, I could not be more proud of all who fought the good fight,” Rowe said Tuesday.  “The people of Illinois deserve better than bail reform that is passed under cover of darkness at 4am when all the state was sleeping; they deserve to have a voice in any constitutional amendments thru the power of their vote; and they deserve to be governed by a government of, for and by the people – not by legislative or gubernatorial fiat.  That was the essence of our lawsuit and we stand for those principles still today.”

As Illinois prepares for the forthcoming changes, the conversation surrounding bail reform and public safety remains at the forefront. The decision’s implications will undoubtedly continue to spark debate among legal experts, policymakers, and community members.

With the SAFE-T Act now set to take effect, Illinois embarks on a new era in its criminal justice system, prioritizing fairness and community safety over wealth-based detainment.

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