Illinois became the first state to abolish cash bail on Monday, a move reportedly lauded by Democratic leaders but condemned by law enforcement.
Following a protracted court struggle, Illinois’ Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act (SAFE-T Act) went into effect on Monday, removing monetary bail as a condition of release.
Cash bail, according to Democratic officials, disproportionately affects minorities and low-income people who have been detained.
It was passed in January 2021, and Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a revised version in December 2022.
“The court ignored the pleas of nearly every prosecutor in the state of Illinois, Democrat and Republican, that the elimination of cash bail will put dangerous criminals back on the street, instead of keeping them in jail or forcing them to post cash bail as they await trial. Many of those offenders will commit crimes again within hours of their release,” Illinois FOP State Lodge President Chris Southwood reportedly said of the law after its passage.
The Illinois Supreme Court temporarily suspended the SAFE-T Act’s cash bail provision before upholding it in July, a decision condemned by the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.