Judge Rules Elimination of Cash Bail in SAFE-T Act Unconstitutional

From NBC Chicago, A Kankakee County judge has ruled portions of the SAFE-T Act unconstitutional, putting a pause on the elimination of cash bail in most of Illinois.

According to a press release, the law will not go into effect on Jan. 1 in the 65 counties that signed onto a lawsuit filed against the administration of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

According to Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe, Circuit Judge Thomas Cunnington has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit, specifically ruling bail reform and pre-trial release provisions in the Pre-Trial Fairness Act unconstitutional.

Cunnington heard arguments last week in lawsuits brought by several prosecutors and sheriffs around the state against the measure pushed by Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly. The elimination of cash bail was set to take effect Jan. 1, but is now on hold in counties impacted by the suit.

“Today’s ruling affirms that we are still a government of the people, and that the Constitutional protections afforded
to the citizens of Illinois – most importantly the right to exercise our voice with our vote – are inalienable,” Rowe said in a statement.

Rowe, one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, argued the law was too broad to meet so-called “single subject rule “of the Illinois Constitution. He said it also violated a constitutional provision that says “all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties,” insisting that Illinois judges should be allowed to set cash bail.

“The legislature, again, has put their hands on your gavel,” Rowe told Cunnington.

Specifically, Cunnington’s ruling held that the SAFE-T Act violated the Separation of Powers Clause, the Victim Rights Act, and unconstitutionally amended Article I, Section 9 of the state’s constitution, which codified cash bail in the state.

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