SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois Supreme Court ruled to uphold the SAFE-T Act, clearing the way for Illinois to be the first state to entirely eliminate cash bail.
The court ruled 5-2 in its opinion on Tuesday to overturn a Kankakee County judge’s ruling.
A coalition of State’s Attorney’s sued the state over the law, alleging, among other things, that a constitutional amendment was needed to eliminate cash bail. The bail clause in the Illinois Constitution guarantees bail by “sufficient sureties.”
The Supreme Court agreed with the state that the SAFE-T Act does provide those sureties.
“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,” Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis wrote in her opinion. “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. For the reasons that we have stated, we reverse the circuit court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs.”
Cash bail was supposed to be eliminated on January 1, 2023, but because of the ongoing court battle, the Supreme Court put an emergency hold on the law, delaying the elimination until the final decision was reached.
The court will lift that hold on September 18. That gives local governments 60 days to prepare for the elimination of cash bail.