On December 31, 2022, the Illinois Supreme Court granted a stay on Illinois’ Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act (“Safe-T Act”) eliminating the pre-trial release and bail reforms set to begin on January 1, 2023 in a substantial number of Illinois’ counties, including DuPage, Cook and Kane. Just days earlier, on December 28, 2022, Judge Thomas Cunningham of Kankakee County ruled that the portions of the Safe-T Act eliminating the pre-trial release and bail reforms set to begin on January 1, 2023 were unconstitutional. The applicable provisions were found to be facially unconstitutional, and the Court concluded that: “[b]ecause, as the Illinois Supreme Court has determined, the administration of the justice system is an inherent power of the courts upon which the legislature may not infringe and the setting of bail falls within that administrative power, the appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat. Therefore, the court finds that Public Acts 101-652 and 102-1104 as they relate only to the pretrial release provisions do violate this separation of powers principle underlying our system of governance by depriving the courts of their inherent authority to administer and control their courtrooms and to set bail. Elrod, supra.” The order all but meant that counties throughout Illinois would have universally different requirements with respect to cash bail, which could have been confusing and difficult for both the criminal justice system and law enforcement entities.
The Supreme Court stepped in and stayed the cash bail requirements enforcement within the SAFE-T Act “…in order to maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois….” The Supreme Court will now expedite the process for the appeal specific to the cash bail and pretrial requirements within the criminal justice system in Illinois. The remainder of the Safe-T Act’s reforms regarding police accountability, body cameras, officer training and other criminal justice issues remain in place, with many of the statutory provisions having taken effect on January 1, 2023. The Supreme Court’s order granting the stay is attached. For more information, or to discuss how the SAFE-T requirements which are stayed, or the portions of the SAFE-T Act that are currently law, impact your municipality, county, police department or officers, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.