Illinois Supreme Court steps in to block cash bail repeal

Illinois was set to become the first state in America to end cash bail on New Year’s Day, but the Supreme Court stepped in to block the radical reform hours before it was set to take effect.

The court said its stay would allow “consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois” until litigation is finished on the Orwellian-named SAFE-T Act.

Radical bail reform law blocked

Prosecutors have warned that the law, which limits the discretion of judges to set bail conditions for even serious crimes like second-degree murder, would unleash pandemonium across the state.

Dozens of prosecutors and sheriffs, including some Democrats, sued to block it, leading a judge to rule days before its January 1 rollout that the law is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court issued a stay Saturday and said it would consider an appeal from the state’s Democratic attorney general in an “expedited” fashion, citing the need for uniform legal standards as the case continues.

Prosecutors react

Attorney general Kwame Raoul urged caution in light of the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it does not address the law’s merits.

“We look forward to mounting a robust defense of the constitutionality of the law and ensuring that it goes into effect across the state,” he said.

Prosecutors in Kane and DuPage counties said they were “very pleased” with the court’s decision, saying it upholds the “equal administration of justice.”

But the Public Defender’s Office in Cook County, where Chicago is located, called cash bail a “deplorable practice” that “punishes people – most of them Black and Brown – for being poor.”

“We decry the frivolous lawsuit that was brought against the Pretrial Fairness Act almost two years after it was signed into law.”

Doubling down on insanity

The state’s Democrat governor J.B. Pritzker signed the SAFE-T Act despite a backlash against bail reform in the lead up to the midterm elections that led some Democrats to moderate their rhetoric on criminal justice nationwide.

Democrats may be interpreting the election results, in which a widely anticipated “red wave” failed to appear, as an affirmation of their radical agenda.

Doubling down, Pritzker has said the SAFE-T Act brings “long overdue reforms” that will “make Illinois families safer,” while stopping violent criminals from “being able to buy their freedom just because they are wealthy enough.”

While the part of the law repealing cash bail has been frozen, the rest of the statute, which includes sweeping police reforms, has gone into effect.