(The Center Square) – The Illinois Supreme Court will release its ruling next week on whether the end of cash bail provision in the SAFE-T Act is constitutional or not.
The court announced on Friday that it would release an opinion this coming Tuesday in the case of Rowe v. Raoul where state attorneys from across the state brought legal action against the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act.
The criminal justice reform measure narrowly passed in early 2021 and has been modified several times since.
One component on hold because of the legal challenge includes the removal of cash bonds statewide, which county prosecutors say is a way they can assure criminal defendants show up for trial.
Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe led the challenge when the case was heard by the Illinois Supreme Court in March.
“And for the sheriff, the sheriff has to ensure effectively the safety of every law enforcement officer under his charge,” Rowe said.
“This act requires them to serve for instance notice to appear and then a warrant on two occasions. We’ve now doubled the number of instances where law enforcement is going to have to come into contact with perhaps a fugitive or a very dangerous individual,” Rowe added.
Supporters of ending cash bail argue such policies allow wealthy people to buy their way out of jail while those of lesser means languish behind bars pending trial.
During the 2022 election season, criticism of the no-cash bail provision made national headlines when it was featured on the popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.
“The ‘SAFE-T’ law,” Rogan said as he read from a news account of the measure. “They’re essentially eliminating cash bail for almost everything dangerous … It’s crazy, I mean everyone’s freaking out.”
Critics said unchanged, the SAFE-T Act included no-cash bail for serious crimes an individual could be let out of jail pretrial, like murder, arson, kidnapping and more.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker in December signed amendments to the law that clarified criminal defendants could be held pretrial for serious crimes and clarified that law enforcement can arrest someone who is trespassing, but only after first issuing a citation.
Pritzker argued in March that the policy makes things more safe and fair.
“Keeping violent criminals in jail, not allowing them to have bail, but taking nonviolent criminals and saying that there’s no reason for us to have pay for you to sit in jail when you can’t afford the few hundred dollars to get out of jail,” Pritzker said.
Alongside the SAFE-T Act ruling to be released by the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday, an opinion is also expected in the case State of Illinois v. Wayne Washington.
The case deals with a false murder confession through coercive interrogation where the petitioner was denied a certificate of innocence by a lower court.