Quad City Area State’s Attorneys react to hold on no-cash bail in Illinois

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 12:19 AM CST
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ROCK ISLAND CO., Ill (KWQC) - With the stay on the no-cash bail part of the SAFE-T Act, it’s business as usual for the Rock Island and Knox County State’s attorneys.

Both top county lawyers don’t have a problem with ending cash bail, but they have a problem with how the Illinois General Assembly tried implementing the system.

Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal, did not join 65 others in suing the state over the cashless bail provision of the SAFE-T Act but did file for a temporary restraining order on it

She said it’s vital that the Illinois Supreme Court stopped it from starting on Sunday in the 37 counties that didn’t sue.

“How would that work? Equal protection — you’ve got one person who’s in custody for an offense and another person who’s not in custody for the exact same offense.” Villarreal said. “We felt that it was in our best interest to fight as much as we could to stop it from being implemented until it had further review.”

Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy Karlin is part of the group that sued the state. He said part of the lower court’s decision aligns with how he viewed the measures in the first place.

“The legislature has essentially said, we’re going to, we’re going to amend the constitution, but not follow the proper means by which to do that,” Karlin said. “The proper means to amend the constitution is to submit that to a vote ... by the voters "

Villarreal said she takes issue with the vagueness of the law. The amendments made in late December also left her office little time to adjust.

“This is whether or not you’re going to take somebody’s liberty away,” Villarreal said. “This is having them in jail without the possibility of being able to bond out .... that is not something we want to get wrong.”

Both Villarreal and Karlin, don’t oppose cashless bail … they just want to see it done in a way that aligns with the state constitution.

“What bail reform needs to do in Illinois, is to release individuals, and then give them a robust structure of mental health treatment and drug treatment.”

All other provisions in the safe-t act did go into effect to start the year.

That includes adding provisions to increase police accountability, like requiring deaths in police custody to be reported. It also provides new guidance on the use of crowd-controlling measures

It expands detainee and prisoner’s rights by allowing phone numbers to be looked up on a cell phone and increases services for pregnant prisoners.

Finally, it makes strides in demilitarizing police departments, by banning them from buying certain armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and bayonets.

There is no word on when the Illinois Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments, or make a decision on the cashless bail part of the SAFE-T Act.