Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail after new “criminal justice reform” legislation known as the Pre-Trial Fairness Act took effect on Monday.
Under the new legislation, those charged with low-level offenses will likely never step foot in a jail cell, even at a police station after an arrest. Instead, defendants will be issued a citation and a future court date without being processed at a police station.
Law enforcement personnel will only be authorized to take individuals into custody if they are unable to identify them or if they present a danger to the community. In the event of a detention, police will be expected to explain why the decision was made.
Judges will then determine whether the arrested individual represents a threat to public safety. If they are not viewed as a threat, they will immediately be released without being required to post cash bail.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told ABC 7 Chicago that her office is eager to institute the new provisions. “What is so fearful of having a system that is fair and just? What is so disarming about making sure people are not detained because they are poor,” Foxx said. “I can assure you that the Cook County States Attorneys Office, stands ready to implement the Pre-Trial Fairness Act.”
Others have strongly condemned the bill, pointing to a number of cities — such as New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco — where the elimination of cash bail has been blamed for sharp upticks in serious crime. “We feel very strongly that it is a serious public safety issue,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. “At the same time, we want to join in the fight toward reforming bail.”
After the law took effect on Monday, Chicago political leaders claimed that Illinois is becoming a national leader for criminal justice reform. “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,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “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.”