In February, Illinois became the first U.S. state to completely abolish cash bail.
“This legislation marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said on signing the legislation.
“All of this was fueled by the experiences of those who have lived with police brutality and discrimination in this terrible year in the middle of a brutal viral pandemic that hurt Black people and brown people disproportionately.”
In deciding whether to release someone charged with a particular crime. Illinois judges will now be required to make their division based on a real risk of a present threat or willful flight. The legislation will not go fully in effect until 2023.
The new system “increases accountability and transparency in law enforcement, modernizes our bail and sentencing systems and provides for greater protections and more humane treatment of those who have been arrested and accused of crime,” said Democratic state Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr., who sponsored the bill. “This is not a moment for incrementalism but one which calls for us to reimagine what public safety looks like in this great state.”
Nonviolent defendants who cannot pay for release will be required to adhere to the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure their appearance in court.
The new law also requires courts to provide additional pretrial services for defendants, such as reminders of court dates and transportation to court appearances.