Decision on Illinois ‘no-cash’ bail lawsuit expected Thursday

(WTVO) — Whether Illinois can legally end cash bail throughout the state awaits the decision of a Kankakee County judge.

The no-cash bail provision is part of afety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity Today, or SAFE-T Act, a measure approved by the General Assembly in January 2021 and signed by Gov. JB Pritzker this year.

More than 60 state’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in Kankakee County earlier this year, challenging the validity of the law.

The elimination of cash bail is aimed at allowing low-level offenders who can’t afford bail to be released from jail and block those accused of dangerous felonies from "buying their way" out of custody.

The law has received heavy pushback from law enforcement agencies and state’s attorneys who claim eliminating cash bail for numerous offenses could allow harmful to allow alleged criminals back on the street while they await trial.

Meanwhile, some state lawmakers say the law isn’t sound.

In November, state Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, said the passage of the SAFE-T Act was unconstitutional.

"We are at a particular point where this goes into effect on Jan. 1, and we got … state attorneys that are highly questioning this particular piece of legislation," tate Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich told The Center Square in November. "Furthermore, the constitutionality of the measure is very much in question."

Gov. JB Pritzker continues to stand by the law, saying Republicans are wrong about what the no-cash provision will do.

"So let us amend the act to make it very explicit," Pritzker said in October. "Those violent criminals that are in jail awaiting trial, that Jan. 1 is not some deadline to let people out. One of the purposes of the SAFE-T Act is to keep our neighborhoods safe. It is to make sure that people who are awaiting trial and are non-violent, who may have committed a low-level offense, do not sit in jail because they do not have a few hundred dollars."

A decision in this case is expected Thursday, Dec. 28, four days before no-cash bail takes effect.

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December 28, 2022 at 10:35AM

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