Illinois Supreme Court puts hold on cashless bail plan

The Illinois Supreme Court has stayed implementation of legislation that would eliminate cash bail in the state. The law known as ther Pretrial Fairness Act was set to go into effect on January 1. WTTW reports:

Roughly half of the state’s elected prosecutors had sued to stop the law from taking effect. On Wednesday, they won when Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington issued an opinion that found the Pretrial Fairness Act unconstitutional. Cunnington said for the legislature to dictate pretrial detention procedures violated the separation of powers.

Cunnington’s opinion allowed the 65 counties that were party to the lawsuit to keep their current bail system in place.

But Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said that Cunnington did not enter an injunction, so the 37 counties that were not part of the suit could move forward with cashless bail, and judges in all of Illinois’ 102 counties could choose to follow the Democrat-backed Pretrial Fairness Act if they so choose. That would have created a situation leading to a lopsided criminal justice system in which defendants would be treated with drastically different approaches where they were arrested.

In the short term, the state supreme court’s stay prevents inconsistent application of cash bail procedures across the state — a basic tenet of due process. The law’s long-term prognosis, however, is uncertain. Violent crime in Chicago is through the roof, and opponents argue that ending cash bail poses a clear risk to public safety.

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