Safe-T Act

Illinois Leaders React After SAFE-T Act's Elimination of Cash Bail Ruled Unconstitutional

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Reaction is flooding in after a Kankakee County judge ruled parts of the SAFE-T Act unconstitutional, including the elimination of cash bail beginning on Jan. 1.

According to the ruling issued by 21st Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cunnington, the elimination of cash bail violated the state constitution. He ruled that the measure needed to be put before voters, because cash bail is specifically mentioned in the constitution, and would therefore require an amendment to remove.

Cunnington's ruling means that the elimination of cash bail is on hold in the 65 Illinois counties that were part of the class-action suit filed against Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, and others.

Raoul says that the measure will still go into effect in counties that were not party to the suit, and said that he intends to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Here are the latest reactions to the ruling.

Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rome, one of the lead plaintiffs in the case.

“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. The Act
was a 765 page bill passed during a lame duck session under cover of darkness at 4:00a.m., affording legislators
less than one hour to read it and vote on it, and denying the general public any opportunity to offer comment or
input. It amended the State Constitution and eroded the constitutional protections of the Victim Rights Act, all
while disenfranchising the people of their Constitutional right to vote on such reforms. The people of Illinois
deserve better than that, and today’s verdict condemns the Act for exactly what it is: unconstitutional.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, one of the named defendants in the class-action lawsuit.

“Today’s ruling is a setback for the principles we fought to protect through the passage of the SAFE-T Act. The General Assembly and advocates worked to replace an antiquated criminal justice system with a system rooted in equity and fairness. We cannot and should not defend a system that fails to keep people safe by allowing those who are a threat to their community the ability to simply buy their way out of jail. I thank the Attorney General for his work on this case and look forward to the Illinois Supreme Court taking up the appeal as soon as possible.”

House GOP Leader Jim Durkin

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the often neglected victims of crime and the men and women of law enforcement who wear the badge every day. Legislation of this magnitude must not only be judged on substance, but also on process. In that regard, the Illinois Democrats failed Illinoisans.

“In order to fix this one-sided, anti-law enforcement, and anti-victim act, it is imperative to have a transparent and substantive negotiation with all interested parties, not just a few stakeholders and political insiders. The people of the State of Illinois deserve nothing less.”

Attorney General Kwame Raoul, another named defendant in the suit.

“Although the court’s decision is binding in the 64 cases that were consolidated in Kankakee County, it is important to note that it is not binding in any other case, including those involving criminal defendants in any of the state’s 102 counties. To definitively resolve this challenge to the pretrial release portions of the SAFE-T Act, Governor Pritzker, the legislative leaders named in the consolidated cases and I intend to appeal the circuit court’s decision directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, where we will ask the court to reverse the circuit court’s decision.

“Most of the SAFE-T Act’s provisions have been in effect for more than a year, and regardless of today’s circuit court decision, all parts of the SAFE-T Act, including the pretrial release portions addressed in the court’s decision, will go into effect Jan 1. For instance, the right of individuals awaiting criminal trials – people who have not been convicted of a crime and are presumed innocent – to seek release from jail without having to pay cash bail will go into effect in a few short days, despite the court’s ruling against those provisions. Illinois residents in all counties should be aware that the circuit court’s decision has no effect on their ability to exercise their rights that are protected by the SAFE-T Act and the Illinois Constitution.”

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