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Republican leader hopes to meet with Democrats to work on changes to Illinois’ SAFE-T Act

January 7, 2023

With the cashless bail portion of Illinois’ SAFE-T Act on hold, the future House minority leader would like to see more changes to the legislation.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced it will hear the case in March after the elimination of cash bail provision was thrown out by a Kankakee County judge who ruled it unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Circuit Judge Thomas Cunnington said the law as written would violate the Separation of Powers Clause and the Victims Rights Act, as well as being an unconstitutional amendment of Article 1, Section 9 of the state constitution, which says “all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties.”

“The court finds that had the Legislature wanted to change the provisions in the Constitution regarding eliminating monetary bail as a surety, they should have submitted the question on the ballot to the electorate at a general election,” Cunnington wrote.

It was thought Cunnington’s ruling would only impact the 65 counties that sued to block the law, but the state’s Supreme Court later clarified the ruling, saying that no county would be permitted to eliminate cash bail to maintain consistency and fairness statewide.

“Those of us who believe in this know that there is even more work to do, but I am comfortable and confident that this is constitutional,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savannah, who will soon become House minority leader, told The Center Square she would like to see changes to the SAFE-T Act, but as for eliminating cash bail, it is pretty cut and dry.

“Definitely the [Pretrial Fairness Act], the no cash bail, is in my opinion there is nothing to negotiate there,” McCombie said. “That is in the constitution and that is what it is.”

McCombie said the SAFE-T Act puts law enforcement, communities and especially victims in harm’s way.

“To force victims to be compelled by the defendant to testify at a bail hearing is absolutely inappropriate,” McCombie said.

Various briefs in the case, filed by both state’s attorneys who filed suit and the state, will be due in the weeks leading up to the March hearings.

If it had taken effect on New Year’s Day, the Pretrial Fairness Act would have made Illinois the first state to eliminate cash bail.

Read more at The Center Square

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