(The Center Square) – In the wake of a wave of district attorneys around Illinois warning of the consequences of ending cash bail in the state, activists are saying otherwise.
On Tuesday, elected officials and the advocacy group The People’s Lobby attended public bond court hearings and stood outside the Dupage County Courthouse in a show of support for the Pretrial Fairness Act, which ends money bonds in Illinois. The provision is part of the criminal justice package SAFE-T Act and will go into effect in January.
State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Downers Grove, said the current cash bail system is unfair.
“No one should be able to buy their way out of jail for the same charge for someone who can afford to do the same,” Stava-Murray said. “That is not a system that keeps us safe.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and fellow Democrats have faced criticism from Republicans for the SAFE-T Act and the ending of cash bail, legislation that was passed in January 2021 and spearheaded by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.
“Allowing people to return home while they await trial keeps communities whole and makes them safer,” the People’s Lobby said in a statement.
As part of the law, the state will be required to provide each criminal defendant a hearing within 48 hours of arrest to determine if the suspect should be released.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weiss said judges will have the option to hold people for certain serious crimes, but ending cash bail will lead to a lot of no-shows in court.
“The General Assembly has dictated only certain crimes that meet certain criteria and of certain severity, are even allowed to be considered to be held,” Weis said. “So you can fail to appear multiple times, as long as your crime doesn’t count, they have to release you.”
In New York, Republicans point to an alleged attack on GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zelden in July to say that Democrats’ progressive cash bail policies will put the state’s residents in danger. The state’s laws exempting all but the most serious crimes from cash bail have drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle since being implemented in 2019.
District attorneys, including Will County’s Jim Glasgow, and law enforcement groups are calling for changes to the SAFE-T Act, including removing the no-cash bail provision, this November during veto session.
“It will destroy the state of Illinois,” Glasgow said. “I don’t even understand the people who support it why they can’t realize that.”
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August 16, 2022 at 04:16PM