Illinois Sparks Fear as First State to Eliminate Cash Bail

( – In a controversial move on Monday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of eliminating cash bail, becoming the first state to alter its criminal justice system in this way.

The court ruled that a new law, the Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act, was constitutional. The ruling said that any defendant accused of criminal felonies and misdemeanors can still be held ahead of their trial, but the state will have to bear the burden of proving that the “defendant poses” a risk to society.

Opponents of cash bail have called it a “penalty on poverty,” claiming that it provides preferential treatment to the rich because they can afford to pay for their release.

A decision was issued by the Supreme Court of Illinois in July that would allow cash bail to be abolished starting this month. Despite the crime waves in Chicago and other metropolitan areas, the court apparently thinks there will be no negative consequences to the change. Those concerned about it, though, believe it will further embolden criminals to commit crimes and even result in many reoffending while out on bail awaiting trial.

The Pretrial Fairness Act was passed in 2022 and then signed into law by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The law will release “thousands of suspects” facing charges of robbery, burglary, kidnapping, and murder. Law enforcement agencies throughout Indiana sued in an attempt to stop the act, leading to a judge declaring it unconstitutional. An appeal of that decision was filed to the Supreme Court which has now overturned it.

The only other state to come close to these reforms is California, which eliminated cash bail for those who aren’t able to afford it. Other blue states are also pushing legislation that loosens consequences for criminals.

Meanwhile, Republicans slam the Democratic Party for their light-on-crime policies that are resulting in rising crime in cities across the country.

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