The Lake County state’s attorney praised the state’s supreme court ruling ending cash bail, saying that the system will be safer and non-violent offenders will not be held because they do not have money.
The Illinois Supreme Court, in a 5-2 ruling, announced its opinion Tuesday morning 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 state’s supreme court reversed a ruling from Kankakee County that held certain provisions of the SAFE-T Act violated the bail clause, the crime victims’ rights clause and the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution.
The court had issued a stay of the no-cash bail provision in December. The stay will be lifted on September 18, ending cash bail in Illinois.
The change means that judges will decide whether an offender should be released or held in jail while awaiting trial. Defendants will no longer be able to post cash to get out of jail.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement that the court ruling has “made our communities safer and our justice system fairer by upholding the SAFE-T Act.”
“… our jail will no longer hold non-violent offenders simply because they do not have money to post bail. We will finally be addressing how a wealth-based system disproportionally jails Black and Brown defendants. We can finally begin to live up to the ideal that access to money should not lead to different justice systems for different defendants,” Rinehart said.
The state’s attorney said the new system is “safety-based” compared to the current “wealth-based” system.
Rinehart argued that federal court and Illinois’ juvenile courts, which do not have cash bail, has worked for decades.
“Let me reiterate this: we will still jail defendants prior to trial, and the defendants we do hold will be the dangerous weapon offenders, drug traffickers, child molesters, murderers, and domestic abusers who will no longer be able to use their own cash (or their accomplice’s cash) as an escape hatch from justice. Our communities will be safer because of today’s ruling,” Rinehart said.
The state’s attorney said his office will be ready in September when the measure goes into law.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office will file petitions to detain offenders who are arrested beginning September 18.
“Judges will decide whether someone is detained or not detained awaiting trial. If a judge rules for detention, those individuals arrested after the effective date will no longer be able to access cash to gain release,” Rinehart said.