Backlash is pouring in after a Kankakee County judge ruled parts of the SAFE-T law unconstitutional, including the elimination of cash bail effective Jan. 1.
According to the ruling by 21st Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cunnington, the elimination of cash bail violated the state constitution. He ruled that the measure must be put before the voters, as cash bail is specifically mentioned in the constitution, and would therefore require an amendment to be removed.
Cunnington’s decision means the elimination of cash bail is suspended in the 65 Illinois counties that were part of the class action lawsuit filed against Governor JB Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Raoul and others.
Raoul says the measure will still go into effect in counties that were not parties to the lawsuit, and said he intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Here are the latest reactions to the decision.
Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rome, one of the lead plaintiffs in the case.
“Today’s decision affirms that we are still a government of the people and that the constitutional protections afforded
to the citizens of Illinois – and especially the right to exercise our voice by our vote – are inalienable. The act
was a 765-page bill passed in a lame duck session under cover of darkness at 4 a.m., allowing lawmakers
less than an hour to read and vote on it, and deprive the general public of any opportunity to comment or
contribution. He amended the state constitution and undermined the constitutional protections of the Victims Rights Act, all
while depriving the people of their constitutional right to vote on such reforms. Illinois people
deserve better than that, and today’s verdict condemns the law for exactly what it is: unconstitutional.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, one of the defendants named in the class action lawsuit.
“Today’s decision is a setback to the principles we fought to protect through the passage of the SAFE-T Act. The General Assembly and the lawyers worked to replace an antiquated criminal justice system with one rooted in fairness and justice. We cannot and must not defend a system that fails to keep people safe by allowing those who pose a threat to their community the ability to simply buy their way out of jail. I thank the Attorney General for his work on this case and look forward to the Illinois Supreme Court hearing the appeal as soon as possible.
House GOP Leader Jim Durkin
“Today’s decision is a victory for often overlooked victims of crime and for the men and women of law enforcement who wear the badge every day. Legislation of this magnitude should not only be judged on substance, but also on process. In this regard, Illinois Democrats have let Illinois down.
“In order to fix this one-sided, anti-law enforcement and anti-victim law, it is imperative to have transparent and substantive negotiation with all interested parties, not just a few stakeholders and political insiders. The people of Illinois deserve nothing less.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul, another defendant named in the lawsuit.
“Although the court’s decision is binding in the 64 cases that have been consolidated in Kankakee County, it is important to note that it is not binding in any other cases, including those involving defendants in one of the state’s 102 counties. To finally resolve this challenge of the SAFE-T Act bail parties, Governor Pritzker, the legislative leaders named in the consolidated cases, and I intend to appeal the circuit court’s decision directly to of the Supreme Court of Illinois, where we will ask the court to reverse the decision of the circuit court.
“Most provisions of the SAFE-T Act have been in effect for over a year, and regardless of today’s circuit court ruling, all parts of the SAFE-T Act, including the portions of bail addressed in the court’s decision will come into effect. effective January 1. For example, the right of people awaiting criminal trial – people who have not been convicted of a crime and are presumed innocent – to seek release from prison without having to pay cash bail will come into effect in a few days, despite the court ruling against these provisions. Illinois residents in all counties should be aware that the circuit court’s decision has no effect on their ability to exercise their rights which are protected by SAFE-T law and the Illinois Constitution.