(NBC Chicago/WAND) — Starting today, the controversial Pre-Trial Fairness Act, part of the SAFE-T Act that eliminates cash bail, goes into effect in Illinois.
Under the no cash bail law, the majority of those charged with crimes will be released from custody before going to trial without needing to post bail.
Illinois is the first state in the country to eliminate cash bail.
The law faced months of legal challenges that ended in a ruling from the
“The Illinois Constitution of 1970 does not mandate that monetary bail is the only means to ensure criminal defendants appear for trials or the only means to protect the public,” the court said. “Our constitution creates a balance between the individual rights of defendants and the individual rights of crime victims. The Act’s pretrial release provisions set forth procedures commensurate with that balance. For the reasons that we have stated, we reverse the circuit court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs.”
The SAFE-T Act was originally supposed to take effect Jan. 1. It was put on hold as the Supreme Court heard an appeal filed by Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office after an earlier ruling from a Kankakee County judge, who deemed the pre-trial release provisions in the SAFE-T Act were unconstitutional, NBC Chicago reported.
Under the original provisions of the bill, as passed by the General Assembly, the state would allow judges to determine whether individuals accused of a specific set of felonies and violent misdemeanors pose a risk to another individual or to the community. Judges will also be asked to determine whether the defendant poses a flight risk if released.
If the judge makes any of those determinations, then the defendant may be held in jail before going to trial.
Detention hearings would not be mandatory for crimes that include probation as a possible punishment, but judges can still make the determination to keep those defendants incarcerated pending trial if they determine they are a risk to the public.
NBC Chicago reports, “The list of so-called ‘forcible felonies’ that could invite judicial discretion on pretrial detention originally included first and second-degree murder, predatory criminal sexual assault, robbery, burglary, residential burglary, aggravated arson, arson, kidnapping, aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm, or any other felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.
Hate crimes, attempts of crimes that are detainable, animal torture and DUI causing great bodily harm were added to the list in a subsequent amendment to the legislation.”