The SAFE-T Act, Illinois' landmark cash bail abolition legislation, passed in 2021 but had to go through an array of legal challenges before the Illinois Supreme Court finally allowed it to go into full effect on Sept. 18.
Before the abolition of cash bail in the state, every individual arrested, regardless of offense, would be taken before a judge to determine the cash bail amount needed for the defendant to go free until their trial.
A portion of the Safe-T Act, known as the Pretrial Fairness Act, changed the law by limiting the possibility of pretrial detention to defendants charged with felonies and who pose a real and present threat to the safety of any person or persons or the community. Detained individuals who fulfill one of eight categories of offenses and meet the standard of being a threat to people or the community are also exempt.
However, this presents a very high bar for somebody to be exempt from the zero-cash bail policy, which leaves many suspected criminals in the state with the ability to walk free before their trial and is one of the reasons why 100 out of the state's 102 county prosecutors opposed the law. (Related: New "no-cash bail" provision now implemented in Illinois will make Chicago even more dangerous.)
Since the implementation of the no-cash bail policy, criminals in Illinois have gained significantly more freedom.
This includes Nicholas Koczor, who was charged with three counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer as well as charges related to phone harassment after prosecutors claimed he left his girlfriend a violently threatening voicemail. Koczor was arrested for the alleged offenses in 2022 and remained in jail after failing to post bond. He filed a petition for his release following the enactment of the SAFE-T Act.
Ivan Muryn, a citizen of Ukraine who has been living in Chicago since last year, has been accused of leaving his dead wife's body on the road. Muryn allegedly got into an argument with his wife while he was driving in northwestern Cook County. She took off her seatbelt, opened the car door and fell from the vehicle.
Muryn fled the scene without calling for help. A judge ordered him to surrender his passport, banned him from driving and placed him on an electronic monitoring system – but he does not have to go to jail because he does not qualify for jail according to the requirements listed in the Pretrial Fairness Act.
Terry Johnson, who was already on parole for armed robbery and aggravated battery, used a sledgehammer to break into a high-end boutique. He and five other accomplices stole about $68,000 worth of merchandise.
Police were able to track down Johnson after he broke a window and cut his finger, leaving blood DNA. DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin noted before a judge that Johnson is clearly a threat to the community. Despite this, Johnson was able to walk free without posting a cash bond.
"The frustration in that case is the judge felt his hands were tied because of the law," said Berlin. He added that this is just one of at least 30 other cases he dealt with in one week where his office asked the judge to detain the suspect, but because of the abolition of cash bail, more than half of the suspects walked free.
"It's the Illinois legislature that is making decisions as to who is being released as opposed to the judges," said McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally.
Republican State Rep. John Curran warned that Illinois Democrats are "prioritizing violent offenders" over law enforcement, members of the state judiciary and victims of crime.
"This highlights the misplaced priorities of Illinois' criminal justice system when the prosecutor prioritizes the freedom of a violent offender over the safety of those police officers dedicated to protecting and serving our communities," said Curran.
Learn more about the rise in crime in the United States at Violence.news.
Watch this episode of "Brighteon Broadcast News" as Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, talks about how Democrat-run places like Illinois and Los Angeles County end cash bail, allowing criminals to go free without having to spend a night in jail.