Covering the Land of Lincoln

State’s Attorney, court reform advocate react to halt on ending cash bail

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The decision of whether to eliminate cash bail across the state has fallen into the hands of the Illinois Supreme Court.

The court issued a stay order Saturday to stop the Pretrial Fairness Act, the provision within the SAFE-T Act that ends cash bail, from going into effect.

This came after a judge in Kankakee County ruled that ending cash bail was unconstitutional.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed to see the law’s implementation get delayed, but we really remain pretty confident that the Supreme Court will overrule the Kankakee decision and find the law constitutional,” Sarah Staudt, the director of policy at Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts, said.

After that judge’s decision, some counties planned to move forward with ending cash bail.

“We would have seen the law go into effect in places like Cook County, for example, had there not been a stay, and instead, Cook County is waiting until the case is resolved,” Staudt said.

That also included Champaign County. Julia Rietz, the state’s attorney for the county, said her office worked with different local government agencies as they prepared to implement the Pretrial Fairness Act.

“Once we received word from the [Illinois] Supreme Court that they were issuing the stay, we just continued on with the cash bail system that we’ve been using,” Rietz said

Other parts of the state wanted to keep the current cash bail system instead of implementing the new law. Rietz said the court’s decision isn’t unexpected.

“It’s a good thing because we can’t have two different systems operating across the state,” Rietz said.

Staudt hopes the court resolves the issue quickly.

“Every day that the money bail system is in place is a day that people are in jail unnecessarily,” Staudt said.

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