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Effective January 1, 2023, the Illinois SAFE-T Act is set to eliminate cash bail in Illinois. It is important to understand the language within this bill, including changes to the latest proposal to the Illinois SAFE-T Act.  This article will give you 5 facts about the Illinois SAFE-T Act.

Key Takeaways

Effective January 1, 2023, the Illinois SAFE-T Act is set to eliminate cash bail in Illinois. It is important to understand the language within this bill, including changes to the latest proposal to the Illinois SAFE-T Act.  This article will give you 5 facts about the Illinois SAFE-T Act.

There have been many concerns with the new SAFE-T Act ending cash bail in Illinois. One of the reasons is that Illinois is the first State to completely end cash bail, and therefore there is no previous example to refer to when predicting how it will play out. This can often lead to speculation from both sides of the issue, which is why lawmakers have made proposed changes to the SAFE-T Act. Crimes that are included in the “detention net,” the definition of “dangerous,” trespassing violations, hearings for current detainees, and arrest warrants for missed court hearings have seen proposed amendments to the Illinois SAFE-T Act.

Cash bail in Illinois

Here are list of five facts you should know about the latest Illinois SAFE-T Act:

  1. Crimes included in the "detention net"
  2. Definition of danger and the “dangerousness standard"
  3. Hearings for current detainees
  4. Trespassing violations
  5. Arrest warrants for missed court dates

Crimes Included in the “Detention Net”

Among the list of crimes where a person is denied pretrial release include arson, second-degree murder, kidnapping, and criminal sexual assault.  


Understanding the “Dangerousness Standard”

The “dangerousness standard” is determined by how much of a threat a person poses in the community. “Real and present threat to the physical safety of any person or persons” includes a threat to the community, person, persons, or class of persons.


Hearings for Current Detainees

To make the process "manageable for courts," legislators proposed a tiered system for granting hearings on such requests. The hearings would then determine whether a current detainee should be released. The tiers would include:

  • Lowest level offenses hearings must be within 7 days of request.
  • Those detained but considered flight risks would get hearings within 60 days.    
  • Those considered to be potential threats to safety get hearings within 90 days.


Trespassing Violations

Under the latest proposal, an officer can arrest someone for trespassing if:

  • The person poses a threat to the community or any person;
  • An arrest is necessary because criminal activity persists after the issuance of the citation;
  • The accused has an obvious medical or mental health issue that poses a risk to their safety.

SAFE-T Act or (Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act)

Defendants are presumed to be eligible for pre-trial release under the new Illinois SAFE-T Act. If a prosecutor wants to hold a defendant in pre-trial detention, they will have to petition the court for a pre-trial detention hearing that must take place within 48 hours of the defendant being taken into custody.  At the pre-trial detention hearing, the prosecutor must show that the defendant presents a threat to a specific person or is a flight risk.    

Defendants will also have access to their phones to get phone numbers and make three phone calls once they are detained.  The Safe-T act also includes reforms in several other areas, including:  

Policing reforms

Policing Reforms

  • Limits to the use of force, including bans on chokeholds  
  • All officers will be required to wear body cameras by 2025  
  • All officers will be required to wear body cameras by 2025
  • An expanded misconduct database  
  • The removal of police discipline from the collective bargaining process  
  • The prohibition of purchasing certain types of military equipment  
  • The expansion of police officer training    

Prison Reforms

  • Additional sentence credit for educational programs  
  • Additional work release options      
  • If detained, access to cell phone for phone numbers along with three phone calls  
  • Increased support for pregnant prisoners  
  • Additional activities of daily life will be allowed while on electronic monitoring  

Sentencing Reforms

  • Reduction in the length of parole for certain offenses  
  • Certain convictions for felony drug offenses will be treated as misdemeanors to access diversion and probation programming.      

Crime Victims’ Compensation Reforms

A broader definition of victim and an easier process for cash compensation to victims. Additional details on the SAFE-T Act can be found here:  Illinois Criminal Law Update: The 2021 Illinois Criminal Justice Reform Act


What Does No Cash Bail Mean in Illinois?

Cash bail is a part of the criminal justice system in the United States.  In most states, cash bail is used to encourage defendants to engage in certain behaviors after they have been charged with a crime.  Typically, this would include making all court appearances and following specific rules set by the court, such as no contact provisions and no drugs or alcohol, to name a few.    

The defendant pays the clerk of the court a certain amount of cash set by the judge.  If the defendant does not follow the rules of the bail bond, they forfeit this money.    

The cash bail system in Illinois is abolished as of January 1st, 2023, meaning that lack of monetary funds will no longer present a barrier to release pending trial in Illinois.    

If a person is arrested after January 1st, 2023, the Safe-T Act will apply to them, and they may be released if the prosecution cannot show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant poses a threat to a specific person or that they have a high likelihood of willful flight.    


Where Does Bail Money go in Illinois?

Until the SAFE-T Act goes into effect, cash bail is paid directly to the circuit clerk of court.  Illinois follows the ten percent rule, which means that ten percent of the total amount of bail set must be paid in cash to the clerk of court.    

What States have Ended Cash Bail?

Bail reform has been taking place throughout the country, and multiple states have made changes to their cash bail systems. Illinois will be the only state to end cash bail in total as of 2023.    


California has reformed the cash bail system in their state.  Cash bail still exists in California. However, defendants cannot be held solely because they cannot afford the bail set by the court.  The standard in California is that clear and convincing evidence of a necessity to protect public safety must be shown to hold a defendant in detention.

New Jersey:  

New Jersey has modified its cash bail system so that defendants have a presumption of release. However, cash bail can still be set in some cases.  New Jersey uses a computer system to determine the risk of recidivism and sets bail by considering this.

New York:  

New York still has cash bail; however, it has limited it to more severe criminal charges. Nonviolent and misdemeanor charges are not subject to cash bail in most cases. New York is the only state that sets bail alone to ensure defendants make their court appearances. New York does not consider whether a defendant is a public safety risk when setting bail.


Illinois will be the only state with no cash bail in any circumstance as of January 1, 2023. Although Illinois will have no cash bail, defendants may still be detained pre-trial after a pre-trial detention hearing.

December 6, 2022
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