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Illinois Supreme Court halts elimination of cash-bail day before taking effect

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Illinois Supreme Court

A last minute decision by the Illinois Supreme Court will not allow the state to abolish the cash-bail system. Set to take effect on January 1, 2023, the SAFE-T Act was postponed by the court. The Act would have eliminated the cash-bail system through “a provision known as the Pretrial Fairness Act.”

The incredibly progressive and liberal Act received criticism from both parties for fear that ending the system would be a danger to public safety. “The Illinois supreme court has not set a date to hear appeals in the case, so it’s unclear when or whether the provision eliminating cash-bail will take effect” reports National Review.

Kankakee County chief judge Thomas Cunnington ruled in favor of 64 counties whose lawsuits against the state were consolidated, finding that “the appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat.”

The state’s Democratic-appointed attorney general, Kwame Raoul, appealed the decision Friday, seeking to overturn Cunnington’s ruling.

National Review reports of the history of the Act:

The SAFE-T Act was the brainchild of Illinois’s governor J.B. Pritzker, who some have suggested as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2024. The bill was widely criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike, who accused Pritzker and his allies in the legislature of ignoring record-breaking levels of violent crime in Chicago.

“The first thing about this bill I would say is it’s unprecedented,” Thomas Haine, the Republican state’s attorney of Madison County told National Review in October.
“As far as I can tell, it is the first complete elimination of cash bail,” he continued.

“From my mind, it’s the story of the century. You have a complete revolution in the cash-bail set-up in Illinois that was passed without any understanding of what it contained.”

After the Illinois court made the announcement late Saturday just before the New Year, state attorneys celebrated the decision. “We are very pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision” said Kane and DuPage county attorneys in a joint statement provided to CBS Chicago.

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