Kankakee judge: SAFE-T Act's ending of cash bail is unconstitutional

A Kankakee County judge has ruled that the portion of the state's controversial SAFE-T Act ending cash bail is unconstitutional.

The judge's ruling late Wednesday comes just four days before cash bail was set to be abolished across Illinois.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul stressed in a statement the ruling by Kankakee County Chief Judge Thomas W. Cunnington is binding only in a limited number of judicial circuits in the state covered by 64 cases challenging the law.

But Raoul said he planned to appeal the judge's ruling directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Richard Kling, a criminal law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, noted Wednesday that Cunnington did not issue an injunction along with his ruling, meaning that the decision will not stop jurisdictions that are not among the plaintiffs in the suit from implementing the provisions of the SAFE-T Act.

In Cook County, where judges and prosecutors have been training on provisions of the law for months and the courts made reforms to bond practices in 2017, Kling said he would expect to see bail effectively eliminated come Jan. 1.

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