Illinois is on track to make history as it becomes the first state in the nation to abolish cash bail after the state Supreme Court upheld a landmark law. The highest court of Illinois stated that it did not violate the state’s constitution, according to reports from Fox News.
The decision comes after legal challenges from prosecutors and sheriffs in multiple counties argued that the law was unconstitutional, posed risks to public safety, and jeopardized law enforcement. However, the state’s highest court overturned the previous ruling, allowing the provision in the SAFE-T Act to take effect.
Effective from September 18, the new law will eliminate the requirement for suspects charged with crimes to pay bail in order to be released from jail while awaiting trial. However, individuals considered a threat to public safety or at risk of fleeing can still be required to remain in custody, according to reports.
Furthermore, while other states have implemented reforms limiting the use of cash bail, Illinois is expected to be the first state to completely eliminate it.
The states Supreme Court highlighted in the ruling that the Illinois Constitution does not mandate that monetary bail is the sole means to ensure defendants’ appearance in court or to protect the public. Justice Mary Jane Theis, in writing the opinion, emphasized the need to strike a balance between the rights of defendants and the rights of crime victims. The pretrial release provisions of the SAFE-T Act were deemed to align with this constitutional balance.
Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed the SAFE-T Act into law last year and expressed his satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision. He stated that the ruling allows for historic reform in determining pretrial detainment based on the individual’s risk to the community rather than their financial resources.
Critics of the law argue that such significant changes should be decided by voters through a ballot measure and voice concerns that suspects will be released back onto the streets following arrests and charges, potentially compromising public safety.
Despite the defeat in the court ruling, opponents of the law, such as Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe, remain steadfast in their beliefs. Rowe, who sued to overturn the law, stressed the importance of the people having a voice in constitutional amendments through the power of their vote and being governed by a government accountable to the citizens.
However, the implementation of the SAFE-T Act signifies a major shift in Illinois’ criminal justice system.
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Historic House Vote Expels Rep. George Santos Amidst Scandal
In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.
Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.
Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.
Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.
Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.
Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.
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