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One State Just Did Away With Cash Bail

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Illinois became the first state to abolish cash bail as a piece of legislation called the Pre-Trial Fairness Act took effect on Monday. 

The Pre-Trial Fairness Act is part of the SAFE-T Act, a broader piece of legislation that “enacts extensive reform impacting many areas of the criminal justice system,” according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.


According to the Chicago Sun-Times, going forward, people charged with the state’s lowest level offenses will most likely never set foot in a jail cell, including at a police station, after their arrest. These people will likely be released with a citation and a court date without being processed at the police station. Law enforcement will be allowed to take certain individuals into custody if they cannot be properly identified or if they believe the person is a danger to the community. Police will be required to explain why the person was held. 

Judges will decide if a defendant poses a public safety threat. If they do not, they will be released without being required to post any money. Those arrested for violent crimes will likely be detained by a judge.

Fox 32 Chicago noted that opponents of the legislation are concerned that it will allow dangerous criminals to “slip through the cracks” and commit crimes. 

"We feel very strongly that it is a serious public safety issue," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow told ABC 7 Chicago.

Cook County State's Attorney Office’s Kim Foxx told the outlet that it “stands ready to implement the Pre-Trial Fairness Act.” 

In addition, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle claimed that they are “focused on effective equitable and sustainable solutions that address the root causes of crime and violence not just now but for future generations.”

"The full implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act and the end of money bond is a critical milestone on the path toward economic and racial justice in Cook County and Illinois. This important reform is long overdue. Today, we finally end the harmful practice of wealth-based pretrial incarceration and welcome a new system that centers community safety to better guarantee equal justice for all,” Preckwinkle added.


Illinois’ House Republican Leader Tony McCombie released a statement, noting that “"The end of cash bail means the legal deck is stacked against the victim and community in favor of the criminal.” 

“This law makes it more difficult for police officers and prosecutors to keep our communities safe by ensuring offenders in most cases can walk free shortly after committing a heinous offense,” McCombie added. “Ending cash bail has produced harmful results in other cities and states, and we have no reason to believe Illinois will be any different. We can only hope that innocent victims' lives are not the ultimate price we have to pay."

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