Thresholds’ Response To Illinois Supreme Court Ruling Upholding The Elimination Of Cash Bail
Supreme Court decision is a victory for dismantling systemic racism and discrimination
The Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday to uphold the elimination of cash bail is a major victory toward dismantling systemic racism. Cash bail requires a person who has been arrested to post bail while awaiting trial, before guilt or innocence is established. This discriminatory practice forces people living in poverty to remain in jail, leading to loss of employment or housing, straining family relationships, and eroding health and wellbeing. This disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people and other individuals of color. The ruling upholds Illinois’ SAFE-T Act, which included a number of reforms, setting stricter standards for when pre-trial detention is appropriate based on public safety and flight risk, rather than on ability to pay. The SAFE-T Act was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed by the Governor in 2021 but was challenged in court and delayed. With today’s ruling that the elimination of cash bail is constitutional, implementation of the SAFE-T Act will take effect September 18th.
Today’s decision is important in the fight for racial equity and will have a major impact on people living with serious mental health or substance use conditions who are often involved in the criminal legal system simply for nonviolent crimes of survival, including theft of food or trespassing for shelter. The cash bail laws in Illinois will no longer discriminate against people living in poverty. Thresholds applauds the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision and the steps being taken in Illinois to reform the criminal legal system.
By: Heather O’Donnell, Senior VP, Public Policy and Advocacy at Thresholds