CHICAGO, IL – The Illinois Supreme Court has halted the Pre-Trial Fairness Act, a provision of the Safe-T Act, hours before it was set to go into effect on January 1, 2023.
Until further notice, every county in the state must maintain a cash bail system. The Illinois Supreme Court issued the order Saturday evening, keeping the cash bail system in place until the state appeals a judge’s ruling on the matter.
Last week, a Kankakee County judge ruled a portion of the Safe-T Act is unconstitutional after states attorneys in 65 counties challenged the new law. Judge Thomas Cunnington ruled cashless bail unconstitutional and stated when the legislature tweaked the judiciary’s ability to set bail, it violated the separation of powers clause in the Illinois Constitution.
“Frankly, it would’ve been chaos because you have two different systems that were in place for people who were arrested. It’s not fair,” Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser told ABC7 Chicago.
The DuPage and Kane County States Attorneys Office issued a joint statement applauding the high court’s move. “We are very pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision. The equal administration of justice is paramount to the successful and fair administration of our criminal justice system.”
The Illinois Supreme Court has not announced when it will hear arguments in the appeal.
Background on cashless bail
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the House Bill 3653 in February 2021 making Illinois the first state in the country to abolish cash bail payments for jail release for people who have been arrested and are waiting for their case to be heard.
The polarizing bill shocked the Chicago community where four in five Chicago-area residents see public safety as a public health concern effecting the city. Even Chicago’s historically low-crime North Side neighborhoods have experienced a spree of shootings, armed robberies, theft and muggings in recent years. In 2021, Chicago recorded more than 800 homicides – more than 90% of these deaths were the result of gun violence.