OAN’s Noah Herring
10:08 AM – Tuesday, July 18, 2023
The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the SAFE-T Act’s cashless bail system across the state.
Early Tuesday, the state’s highest court overturned a ruling by a Kankakee County judge in a 5-2 vote that upholds that the cash bail system is constitutional. The end to cash bail will go into effect on September 18th.
“The Illinois Constitution of 1970 does not mandate that monetary bail is the only means to ensure criminal defendants appear for trials or the only means to protect the public. Our constitution creates a balance between the individual rights of defendants and the individual rights of crime victims. The Act’s pretrial release provisions set forth procedures commensurate with that balance,” Justice Mary Jane Theis wrote in the ruling.
The controversial SAFE-T Act was passed by Illinois lawmakers in 2022. The act lets judges decide who gets pretrial release and who has to remain in custody. Advocates of the bill argued that the cash bail unfairly impacted minorities and poor people, keeping them locked up for petty offenses.
Republican Justices David Overstreet and Lisa Holder White dissented from the ruling, calling the end to cash bail a “direct violation of the plain language of our constitution’s bill of rights and, more specifically, the vested rights of crime victims.”
“The people of Illinois exercised their ultimate sovereign power in 2014 when they vested crime victims with constitutionally protected rights. They did so by amending the bill of rights in our state constitution, setting out specific enumerated rights to be enjoyed by all crime victims in this state. Those enumerated rights include the explicitly defined right to have their safety and the safety of their families considered by the courts in ‘denying or fixing the amount of bail,’” Overstreet wrote.
Governor J.B Pritzker (D-Ill.) was pleased that the Supreme court upheld the constitutionality of the new act
“I’m pleased that the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld 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. My thanks to Attorney General Raoul’s office and the many people who worked tirelessly over the last months to defend these important reforms,” Pritzker said. “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.”
Law enforcement officials across the state have argued that the law would let dangerous criminals be out on the streets, threatening public safety.
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