No Cash Bail - Coming Here Sept. 18

By IL State Senator Craig Wilcox
July 24, 2023

On July 18, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the highly controversial SAFE-T Act. Despite strong opposition from law enforcement and state’s attorneys across the state, the court issued a split 5-2 decision along party lines in favor of the no-cash bail provisions found within the law. Click here to read the ruling.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court is giving SAFE-T Ruling counties 60 days to implement the law, which will take effect statewide beginning Monday, Sept. 18. Many counties have expressed concern over the negative impact the law will have on the safety of its residents, as well as the financial impact eliminating cash bail will have on local government budgets. I believe those costs will likely be made up by an increase in property taxes, a decrease in government services, or both.

Since its infamous late-night passage on the final day of the 2021 lame-duck session, the SAFE-T Act has been highly criticized for the lack of input allowed by law enforcement, state’s attorneys, and judges by the Majority Party leaders who forced the legislation through the General Assembly with little-to-no time for public scrutiny.

Upon learning of the ruling, I issued the following statement:

“This is not the ruling I had hoped for in this case. The bottom line is that Illinoisans deserve to feel safe in their communities, and this decision makes our cities and towns less safe. The turnstile system of criminal justice that goes along with the elimination of cash bail will put dangerous offenders back on the streets within hours of their arrest. Judges must have the flexibility to set bail as they see fit given the circumstances of each individual case.

“In a state with alarming crime statistics, eliminating cash bail without giving judges full discretion is the last thing we should do. Until Illinois decides once and for all to get tough on crime and hold offenders accountable, this state will continue to have a serious crime problem.”