Windhorst Warns of Consequences after Ruling that Upholds End of Cash Bail

METROPOLIS – State Representative Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) says the Illinois Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision upholding the end of cash bail as required in the dangerous and controversial SAFE-T Act will lead to increased recidivism, reduced public safety, and eventually local tax increases. The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision comes after a long battle over the provision of the SAFE-T Act that ends the practice of requiring cash bail for criminal offenses.

“Today’s Illinois Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the end of cash bail is very disappointing,” Windhorst said. “I was a leading vocal opponent of the SAFE-T Act for many reasons including the dangerous provision of the law that ends our current system of cash bail. While the court holds that the General Assembly can eliminate cash bail, it is still a dangerous policy and cash bail should be reinstated. Cash bail is important to our system of justice because it is a middle ground between holding someone in jail pending trial or simply releasing them. It requires someone accused of a criminal offense to have some financial skin in the game. When someone is arrested and released on cash bail, they have an incentive to return for their next court date or they forfeit their bond. That incentive to return to court has been eliminated by the SAFE-T Act, and will lead to recidivism and dangerous outcomes for the citizens of Illinois.”

Windhorst says other jurisdictions have experimented with extreme reforms of cash bail and have experienced disastrous repercussions.

“We’ve all read and seen the reports of criminals being caught and released multiple times in the same day, sometimes even re-arrested by the same police officer during that officer’s shift. The end of cash bail has had predictable damaging effects in other places, and I have no reason to believe Illinois will be any different,” Windhorst said. “The SAFE-T Act harms police officers, hurts our court system, and makes our citizens less safe by ensuring that offenders can walk free shortly after committing heinous offenses. I fear that Illinois will continue to see our citizens fleeing for other safer states when the impacts of the end of cash bail start to take effect.” 

Windhorst says the elimination of cash bail in the SAFE-T Act will require additional resources for Illinois’ court system that will potentially come from tax increases.

“Ultimately, public safety will suffer and our court system will suffer until it receives additional resources to address the issues caused by the elimination of cash bail,” Windhorst said. “Local property taxpayers will eventually be paying for these reckless policy changes because courts will still need money to function to ensure that justice is served in Illinois.”