Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today released the following statement after the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding the SAFE-T Act.
“I am pleased – although not surprised – that the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act. The court’s decision today holds – as my office has consistently advocated – that the General Assembly had the authority to eliminate cash bail and replace it with a system in which people are detained pending trial only if they pose a threat to the public or are a flight risk. And it rejects the plaintiffs’ argument that courts must retain the authority to set cash bail free of legislative regulation – an argument that would have called into question decades of criminal justice reforms in our state.
“Someone’s experience with the criminal justice system should not vary based on their income level. The SAFE-T Act was intended to address pervasive inequalities in the criminal justice system, in particular the fact that individuals who are awaiting criminal trials – who have not been convicted of a crime and are presumed innocent – may spend extended periods of time incarcerated because they cannot afford to pay cash bail. The law ensures that the decision about whether people are detained pending trial is not based on whether they can afford to pay for their release.
“With the court’s decision today, the elimination of cash bail will soon take effect. Other parts of the act, not challenged by the plaintiffs, also remain in effect and will have a positive impact within the state. This includes my office’s authority to conduct pattern-and-practice investigations of civil rights violations by law enforcement and improvements to the police officer certification process that create uniformity for departments across the state, promote professionalism in law enforcement and increase transparency.
“Attorneys from my office have spent many months defending the SAFE-T Act’s constitutionality in courtrooms throughout Illinois against meritless challenges. I am proud of their dedication and appreciate their service to the people of Illinois.”