The “bail reform” movement in Illinois isn’t going away any time soon. If anything, it’s only picking up steam. The efforts by Democrats to empty the jails received a big boost recently with the passage of a new bill designed to fully and permanently eliminate cash bail. Named the “Pretrial Fairness Act,” the Governor is expected to sign it into law. The new law would remove all cash bonds for suspects awaiting trial. That doesn’t mean that nobody would be locked up, as we’ll see in a moment, but the jails are certainly going to be considerably emptier when this goes into effect two years from now. (NBC News)
But the long-standing practice may come to an end as Illinois is expected to pass legislation that will fully end the use of money bond, making it the first state to explicitly and entirely end a system of wealth-based freedom that has not only disproportionately affected low-income populations but also communities of color. While other states have struggled to successfully implement similar bail reform measures, criminal justice advocates say Illinois may have gotten it right.
The Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act passed the state legislature last month and is expected to be signed into law by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the coming weeks.
If you click through and read the NBC News article, you’ll see that they begin their coverage with a tale sure to tug on your heartstrings. They describe a 34-year-old husband and father who had just started a small business when he was arrested “on traffic charges” and ordered to post a bond of $10,000 to be released while awaiting trial. He’s unable to come up with the money, so he sits in jail for two months while his wife struggles, eventually losing both their new business and their home.