- Illinois abolishes cash bail, with the “Pretrial Fairness Act” set to be implemented, following the state Supreme Court’s approval.
- Judges will assess whether defendants pose threats to community safety or are flight risks. Specific charges can lead to denial of pretrial release.
- Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx lauds the move, emphasizing decisions will now prioritize safety over financial capacities.
Starting Monday, a groundbreaking shift in Illinois’ judicial process will transpire as the state becomes the first to eradicate cash bail, as recently disclosed by officials.
This monumental decision arrives two months subsequent to the Illinois Supreme Court’s validation of the “Pretrial Fairness Act.” This Act, encompassing part of the broader “SAFE-T Act,” was deemed constitutional despite facing vehement opposition. Notably, several states’ attorneys had lodged complaints against the Act. Yet, after hearing their concerns in July, the state’s Supreme Court gave the green light for the law to prevail.
Delving into the bill’s specifics, it mandates judges to evaluate certain criteria before taking a decision. Those accused of certain felonies or violent misdemeanors, and who are potentially detrimental to another person or the community at large, might find themselves detained before their trial begins. Furthermore, judges are to gauge if there exists a likelihood of the defendant evading court proceedings.
The conditions under which a defendant might be denied pretrial release are meticulously detailed. Charges like human trafficking, hate crimes, firearm-related offenses, endangerment to a child, and several others can lead to pretrial detention. Furthermore, if the defendant is considered a tangible threat to others’ safety or the community and faces accusations of crimes like animal torture or causing harm due to driving under influence, pretrial release can be negated.
A notable inclusion is the “forcible felony” category, encompassing heinous crimes like murder, arson, kidnapping, and sexual assault of minors, among others. If an individual faces a felony charge, it is incumbent on the court to discern during the detention hearing if there’s credible cause to believe the defendant has indeed committed the crime. In instances where the evidence is insubstantial, the defendant stands to be released.
Central to the bill is the principle that every defendant is initially deemed fit for pretrial release. The responsibility to refute this presumption squarely lies with the state. They must furnish undeniable proof that the defendant’s crime is of a severe nature, as delineated in the bill, and that they are a palpable threat to the community or individuals.
Critically, the bill advocates for a bespoke approach. Decisions regarding pretrial release or detention must be individually tailored, and cannot lean on a solitary factor or standard. The unilateral use of risk assessment tools to deny pretrial release is strictly forbidden.
Cook County, endorsing this transformative move, proclaimed their readiness to implement the Act’s provisions. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx extolled the initiative, emphasizing that the county now stands as a paragon of justice, where verdicts revolve around safety, not monetary considerations.
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