Everyone in Illinois, and across the nation, can breathe a sigh of relief after Governor Pritzker received a significant setback this week when a judge ruled his PURGE LAW was unconstitutional. His efforts to eliminate bail completely have been thwarted, leaving many wondering if the reformer-in-chief will attempt another shot at his beloved justice reform bill. For now, however, it looks like those planning to stand trial in Illinois will still need to rely on their wallets for release until Pritzker sets his sights on new avenues to let criminals walk free in Illinois.
Governor Pritzker was all set to turn Illinois into a ‘cashless bail’ utopia with the new SAFE-T Act. However, just days left before the law took effect, a judge stepped in and declared it unconstitutional! Looks like Governor Pritzker’s PURGE Act just got PURGED by a judge. This ruling sets an interesting precedent for US legal systems with regards to cashless bail.
ABC7 Chicago reports, An Illinois judge ruled Wednesday that the portion of the SAFE-T Act that abolishes cash bail is unconstitutional.
65 Illinois state attorneys challenged the new law at a hearing last week. According to the Kankakee County State’s Attorney, this means that the pre-trial release and bail reforms described in the law will not go into effect in those counties on Jan. 1.
According to Townhall, Kankakee judge Thomas Cunningtonruling “held that the SAFE-T Act violated the Separation of Powers Clause, the Victim Rights Act, and unconstitutionally amended Article I, Section 9 of the state’s constitution, which codified cash bail in the state.”
According to a subsequent report, “Cunnington ruled that because cash bail is specifically mentioned in the state constitution, its removal would require an amendment.”
A number of other parts of the “SAFE-T Act” have been upheld, including the requirement that police wear body cameras.
In a statement, Gov. JB Pritzker called the ruling a “setback.”
Pritzker stated, “Today’s ruling is a setback for the principles we fought to protect through the passage of the SAFE-T Act. The General Assembly and advocates worked to replace an antiquated criminal justice system with a system rooted in equity and fairness.
Pritzker added, “We cannot and should not defend a system that fails to keep people safe by allowing those who are a threat to their community the ability to simply buy their way out of jail.”
According to a press release from Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, some parts of the legislation have been in effect for more than a year.
The press release stated that he “intend[s] to appeal the circuit court’s decision directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, where we will ask the court to reverse the circuit court’s decision.”
It should be noted that the court is made up of five Democrats and two Republicans.
The PURGE Law proposed by Governor Pritzker has been dealt a major blow with the ruling made by the Illinois judge just days before it was set to take effect. Back to the all-you-can-eat Buffet Pritzker, we are safe from his law for now. However interesting precedent will still be set in the US with regards to the criminal justice system’s cashless bail provisions which have been undoubtedly impacted by this judge’s decision. It will be crucial for states to remain vigilant in overruling potential dangerous laws or laws that go against their constitutional rights. All in all, I’m relieved that this law has been PURGED and we can go back to living our lives with peace of mind.
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