Illinois Supreme Court Allows Elimination of Cash Bail

llinois Court Takes BOLD Step - Big Changes Ahead

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In an effort to reform the criminal justice system, the Illinois State Supreme Court has upheld a law known as the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act, aimed at abolishing cash bail. According to this law, all defendants can be released before trial without the need to post bail, provided they are not considered a danger to society or likely to flee. Instead, judges are permitted to impose certain conditions for release, such as house arrest, restraining orders, or electronic monitoring of the defendant.

The Safe-T Act, which was passed in 2021, faced delays in its enforcement until 2023 due to legal disputes. Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis of the Illinois State Supreme Court highlighted the importance of striking a balance between the rights of defendants and the rights of crime victims, describing the bill as a measured and appropriate approach to address this concern.

Despite an initial ruling by a Kankakee County judge that deemed the law abolishing cash bail as unconstitutional, the State Supreme Court reversed that decision and, with a 5-2 majority vote, upheld the bill. The court announced that the law would be implemented in September of the current year. Once enacted, Illinois will become the first state to completely eliminate cash bail from its criminal justice system.

Governor JB Pritzker, a member of the Democratic party, lauded the bill as a groundbreaking reform for Illinois, emphasizing its ability to rectify disparities within the criminal justice system. The Governor commended the bill’s approach of prioritizing the detention of violent criminals while allowing those who do not pose a threat to society but lack the means to pay bail to be released while awaiting trial.

However, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police expressed strong disapproval of the bill, denouncing it as a significant insult to both law enforcement officers and the people they are responsible for safeguarding. The group contended that lawmakers disregarded the appeals of prosecutors from both political parties in Illinois, raising concerns that the law could facilitate the release of violent and hazardous criminals into society more readily.

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