The Illinois Supreme Court has halted the Pre-Trial Fairness Act, preventing the no-cash bail provision from taking effect.

The Illinois Supreme Court has halted the Pre Trial Fairness Act, a provision of the Safe-T Act, just hours before it is scheduled to go into effect on January 1st.

The decision means that every county in the state must maintain a cash bail system until further notice.

The court issued the order Saturday evening, extending the cash bail system until further notice while the state appeals a judge’s decision in the case.

“Throughout the entire state of Illinois, we need to have the same rules, the same protections for every single person no matter where they live,” Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser said.

A Kankakee County judge ruled earlier this week that a portion of the Safe-T Act, which abolishes cash bail in Illinois, is unconstitutional after state attorneys in 65 Illinois counties challenged the new law.

Judge Thomas Cunnington stated in his 33-page opinion that “…the appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat.”

You can read the judge’s decision here.

“To be honest, it would have been chaos because there were two different systems in place for people who were arrested. It’s not right “Mosser continued.

Since then, Attorney General Kwame Raoul has filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. Following the ruling, he issued the following statement:

“As previously stated, my office filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court because only the Supreme Court’s final decision on the merits will be binding on all Illinois courts in this case. It is important to note that the court’s order issued today is not a decision on the merits of the SAFE-T Act’s constitutionality, and I appreciate the court’s interest in expediting the appeal. We look forward to mounting a strong defense of the law’s constitutionality and ensuring that it is implemented throughout the state.”

The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice issued a statement as well.

“While we are disappointed that the Pretrial Fairness Act will not be taking effect as scheduled on January 1, 2023, we are thankful that the Supreme Court has stepped in to provide guidance to courts and communities across the state. We remain confident that the Court will swiftly correct the poorly reasoned decision made by Judge Cunnington. “The frivolous lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Pretrial Fairness Act is just the latest of many attempts by conservatives to prevent progress and preserve wealth-based jailing in Illinois. They know their actions were taken on weak legal grounds, at the last minute despite the law passing 23 months ago, and were simply intended to delay the inevitable implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act. With every passing day that money bond remains in place, Illinois will continue to punish people for being poor. It is essential that the Supreme Court moves quickly to ensure the law’s full implementation and prevent any more Illinoisans from being forced to pay a ransom to free their loved ones from jail while they await trial. “It is a common refrain that the darkest hour comes before dawn. If you look closely towards the horizon, you’ll see a new day is quickly approaching in Illinois. While those looking to preserve the racist system of wealth-based jailing may delay progress, they will not prevent it.”

The following statement was issued by DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser in response to the Supreme Court’s decision:

“This afternoon, the Illinois Supreme Court granted an Emergency Motion for Supervisory Order jointly filed by our offices that will suspend implementation of the Safe-T-Act pending resolution of current litigation. In our motion, which was filed late yesterday afternoon, we sought “an order sufficient to maintain consistent pretrial procedures” to not only clarify the implementation of the Safe-T-Act, but to also maintain an orderly administration of justice. Had the Safe-T-Act gone into effect on January 1, 2023, while litigation is pending, the administration of justice in Illinois would have been uneven, thus harming all the citizens of the State. Additionally, DuPage and Kane Counties, would have faced additional challenges as multiple municipalities are in multiple counties, some of which were bound by the pending litigation and others that were not. We are very pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision. The equal administration of justice is paramount to the successful and fair administration of our criminal justice system. Today’s decision will ensure that those accused of a crime in Illinois will receive equal and fair treatment throughout the State.”

Cook County Public Defenders Office said in a statement:

“The Cook County Public Defender’s Office is disappointed that this historic and transformative law will not take effect as planned tomorrow, Jan. 1. We are confident that the Supreme Court will swiftly reverse the lower court finding and confirm the constitutionality of the Pretrial Fairness Act. In the meantime, we are grateful that the court is providing uniform guidance to courts across the state. Money bond is a deplorable practice, and it is high time that Illinois abolish a system 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. We continue to look forward to a day in the near future when Illinois will move forward as a beacon for our nation, reforming our inequitable pretrial legal system.”

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