SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Reaction continued Thursday after a Kankakee County judge ruled the provision that eliminates cash bail in the SAFE-T Act unconstitutional.
In a ruling released late Wednesday, Kankakee County Chief Judge Thomas Cunnington said, “…the appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat.”
Republican leaders are applauding the decision while the Illinois Attorney General said he will appeal to the state supreme court.
Earlier this month, lawmakers approved several changes to clarify the portion of the SAFE-T Act that eliminates cash bail.
“Last night’s decision is a victory for the citizens of Illinois, specifically the victims of crime and the men and women of law enforcement,” State Rep Jim Durkin (R ) said.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker released a statement saying in part, “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.”
The ruling is binding only in a limited number of judicial circuits in Illinois that were covered under 64 combined lawsuits and does not include Cook County.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement, “Most of the SAFE-T Act’s provisions have been in effect for more than a year, and regardless of the 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.”
Republicans want implementation delayed statewide.
“We are here now with potential chaos that may ensue beginning January 1,” State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R ) said. “We will have counties throughout the state that will have a cash bail system and counties throughout the state which will potentially not have the cash bail system or have it eliminated.
It’s unclear how quickly the Illinois Supreme Court will hear the state’s appeal.
The ACLU of Illinois also released a statement saying they’re confident money bond ultimately will be eliminated across the entire state.