Illinois plan to eliminate cash bail remains unclear after judge’s ruling

Illinois’ plan to eliminate cash bail earlier this year now faces uncertainty following a judge’s ruling that certain provisions of the legislation are unconstitutional.

The No Cash Bail Act, also known as the Pretrial Fairness Act, was to make Illinois the first state to officially eliminate cash bail and would require judges to determine whether a detained person should be released.

Just days before the measure took effect, Chief Justice Thomas W. Cunnington of the 21st State Judicial Circuit ruled that the bail reform and bail provisions were a violation of the Illinois constitution.. The decision follows a class action lawsuit filed by sheriffs, prosecutors and dozens of Illinois counties in opposition to the legislation.

The Pretrial Fairness Act is part of an update to the Republican-opposed Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Fairness Act (SAFE-T Act) that outlines numerous reforms pre-trial detention protocols, the criminal justice system and the police system.

The police killing of George Floyd served as the catalyst for the SAFE-T Act, which has been in effect since February 2021. Some reforms included police training requirements, reporting and limitations on the use of force, filing anonymous complaints against police officers. and the use of body cameras.

While the consequences of Cunnington’s decision remain uncertain, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul (D) said in a statement that he consider taking the decision directly to the Illinois Supreme Court for appeal and that all other measures of the SAFE-T Act remain intact. Raoul also clarified that the decision only applies to the 65 counties involved in the lawsuit, and that the implementation of no cash bail will continue in the other counties.

“The right of persons awaiting criminal trial – persons who have not been convicted of a crime and are presumed innocent – to seek release from prison without having to pay cash bail will take effect in days, despite the court ruling against these provisions,” Raoul said in the statement.

Republicans claimed the no-cash bail measure would result in the release of “violent felon defendants” without any assurance that they would return for trial.

But supporters of the no-cash bail law have argued that it is unfair that someone with limited resources must remain in jail before a trial, while someone with more wealth could be bailed out.

According to Prison Policy Initiativemore … than 400,000 people in the United States are currently being held pre-trial, many of whom cannot post bail. This issue also disproportionately impacts black and brown communities, who face higher incarceration and poverty rates.

“This trial and the resulting decision are the culmination of a concerted effort to undermine reform; those attempting to defame these reforms are supporters of a system that has contributed to the racial injustices of mass incarceration and over-surveillance of black and brown communities, which has diminished the safety, resilience and trust of many residents,” Cook County officials said. , which includes Chicago, wrote in a joint statement.

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