ACLU, Illinois group to speak about SAFE-T Act, cash bail in Joliet

Protestors gather in downtown Joliet near the Will County Courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in support of the SAFE-T Act.

A presentation about the Pretrial Fairness Act that last year eliminated cash bail for defendants will take place Saturday in Joliet.

The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice plans to host several events across the state regarding the provision of the SAFE-T Act that abolished cash bail for criminal defendants after it went into effect Sept. 18. The law allows a judge to keep defendants in jail without any ability to pay their way out if they’ve been charged with violent crimes and certain other offenses.

The presentation will be at noon at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet, 3401 W. Jefferson St., Joliet.

Those who are interested in attending should set up a reservation by emailing

Ben Ruddell, the director of criminal justice policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, will deliver a presentation on the Pretrial Fairness Act.

“The teach-in will cover how the old money bond system harmed community members and how the Pretrial Fairness Act is improving our state’s pretrial system and increasing community safety,” according to the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice. “Attendees will learn about the reforms included in the law and how the new system is functioning.”

The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice has advocated for the elimination of cash bail, and it composes more than 45 community, legal, policy and service organizations across the state.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow was one of the biggest opponents of cashless bail in Illinois. The Joliet City Council also passed a resolution in a 5-3 vote in 2022 to call for a repeal of the SAFE-T Act.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow speaks during a rally for ZONTA Says No To Violence Against Women outside the old court house on Tuesday in Joliet.

Glasgow, along with many prosecutors throughout Illinois, sued Gov. JB Pritzker and other state officials to stop the abolishment of cash bail Jan. 1, 2023. Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington handed Glasgow and other prosecutors an initial victory that kept cashless bail from going into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed Cunnington’s ruling July 18.

“[Cunnington] appeared to believe that monetary bail is the only way to assure a defendant’s presence and to protect the public. In doing so, the court elevated the system of monetary bail over the plain language of the bail clause [in the Illinois Constitution],” according to the Illinois Supreme Court ruling.

This week, the Chicago Tribune reported that more than 1,300 pretrial appeals of detention decisions were filed in five appellate districts in Illinois since Sept. 18. An Illinois Supreme Court’s task force will review the effect of the caseloads and will issue a report, according to the article.