Illinois’ controversial SAFE-T Act is once again in question after a judge made a major change to it Wednesday.
Kankakee County Chief Judge Thomas Cunnington’s ruling sides with prosecutors and sheriffs from across the state. But the ruling will only effect a portion of the SAFE-T act.
And state leaders plan to take to this fight up to the Supreme Court.
Cunnington’s ruling stated that “the appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat.”
The ruling came after more than 60 different lawsuits were combined and filed by sheriffs and prosecutors who said the legislation violates the separation of powers and improperly amended the state constitution.
The judge’s ruling on cash bail is binding only in a limited number of judicial circuits in Illinois that were covered under 64 combined lawsuits.
The act is set to go into effect next week — bringing with it the elimination of cash bail — and allowing people in jail to request a pre-trial hearing where a judge would make a decision about their release.
Also new defendants would go before a judge who would determine if they should be let go while waiting for their trial to begin.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul spoke out against the ruling saying all parts of the SAFE-T act will go into effect next week.
Governor JB Pritzker released a statement that said, “The general assembly and advocates worked to replace an antiquated criminal justice system with a system rooted in equity and fairness. … 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.” Raoul also said he plans to appeal the decision and take it to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The SAFE-T act will go into effect on the first of the year for all counties in Illinois.