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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Constitutionality of Challenged Provisions of the SAFE-T Act

We previously reported on the SAFE-T Act that modified Illinois state statutes in a number of ways, including provisions regarding cash bail and pretrial release. The Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity Today Act (Act) was enacted by P.A. 101-652, as amended by P.A. 102-1104. As many of you may recall, the constitutionality of the Act was challenged in a Kankakee County circuit court and last December, the circuit court held that certain provisions of the Act violated the Illinois Constitution's bail clause, the crime victims clause, and the separation of powers clause. The State appealed the circuit court's order, and the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling today reversing that order, vacating the circuit court's stay effective September 18, 2023, and directing circuit courts to conduct hearings consistent with the Act and Illinois Supreme Court rules implementing the new pretrial release provisions of the Act. 

The Illinois Supreme Court's rationale for reversing the circuit court's order is set out in its opinion, but the crux of the ruling is the Court's rejection of the argument that the Illinois Constitution mandates that monetary bail is the only means to ensure criminal defendants appear for trials or the only means to protect the public. The Court emphasized that the Illinois Constitution creates a balance between the individual rights of defendants and individual rights of crime victims, holding that the Act's pretrial release provisions include procedures that balance those rights. Rowe v. Raoul, 2023 IL 129248.


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