(Lillian Tweten, Daily Caller News Foundation) Illinois officially eliminated its cash bail system on Monday following the state’s Supreme Court decision in July permitting the criminal justice reform to move forward, CBS Chicago reported.
The reform, which was supposed to be implemented as part of the “SAFE-T Act” in January, was initially put on hold when 64 Illinois counties filed a complaint arguing that the law, labeled the “Pretrial Fairness Act,” violated the state constitution, according to CBS. But the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution does not prohibit cashless bail, allowing the policy to take effect on Sept. 18 and making the state the first to officially eliminate the bail system.
“Today, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the Pretrial Fairness Act, ensuring that a person’s ability to pay cash bail does not unfairly dictate their presumption of innocence in the court system,” Democratic Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said, according to Fox32 Chicago. “Cash bail does not make communities safer, and it never has; it has simply exacerbated existing inequities and disparities in the criminal legal system. Pretrial detention, as a result of the inability to pay bail, further decimates communities that have long been most impacted by mass incarceration, and the destabilization of households and families.”
Under the new cashless bail policy, judges will be required to release all defendants unless that person has been charged with a violent crime or if the judge determines that person could be a flight risk, KSDK CBS5 reported. Individuals currently incarcerated because they cannot meet their set bail will have 90 days to appeal their case to the Illinois court system.
Opponents of the measure expressed concerns that police will have to repeatedly arrest the same offenders and that public safety will deteriorate, according to CBS. But supporters of the new policy argued that it would eliminate “biases” in the criminal justice system and claimed that safety would not decrease in Illinois, WGN9 News reported.
“It’s pretty sad that for so long we made decisions about whether somebody should be detained based upon the money that they had in their pockets,” Sharone Mitchell Jr., the public defender for Cook County in Illinois, told WGN9.
The cashless bail system has previously come into question in California and other states after suspects were arrested multiple times for similar offenses in a short time span. A study of Yolo County in California showed that those released on cashless bail committed 163% more crimes overall and 200% more violent crimes than suspects released on bail, according to a press release from the county’s District Attorney.
Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.