Cash bail reform goes well beyond a law, a vote – Shaw Local < Illinois

In the quest for reform, legislation is important but not conclusive.

It’s been exactly 96 weeks since I used that phrase to open a column on the lame passage of omnibus criminal justice statutes.

“Instead of simply ending cash bail with the governor’s signature,” the January 19, 2021 article continued, “legislation now creates a two-year window to develop consistent standards for how courts grant pre-trial release on the basis of the criminal.” or deny fees, flight risk and imminent danger to the community.”

If you’ve been paying attention or just checking your email since then, you’re familiar with the debate surrounding the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, which covers a wide range of government operations but has been reduced to a conversation in the public square about who can and cannot be released from prison while awaiting trial on criminal charges.

Scott T Holland

Recognizing an argument in bad faith is as simple as assessing the argumenter’s knowledge of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Pre-Trial Implementation Task Force (, which preceded the passage of the SAFE-T Act by several months by the legislature began its work and is preparing further. This effort includes a series of full-day regional educational seminars, including December events in Springfield, Carterville and Champaign.

That’s not to say that everyone should agree with the changes, or if they’re even necessary, but for years it has been disingenuous to suggest that the people who voted to pass this reform rushed in, regardless of the consequences.

The larger context goes well beyond the past 96 weeks. In 2017, when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner was in office, the General Assembly changed the rules so many people charged with nonviolent crimes were not required to post bail. Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker spoke of completely abolishing cash bail by January 2020 at the latest.

We don’t really do quick tests anymore. But charges are not convictions, so the bail system aims to ensure those arrested appear in court without lingering in county jail. By posting bail, the defendants have a financial stake in the matter while being able to go home, continue working, maintain family ties, and secure competent legal counsel.

Don’t have the money? stay in jail Risk employment, stable housing and support networks. It is not difficult to imagine this beginning to continue a downward cycle, or to understand the injustice in a system where wealth under the law yields better results.

Some people are happy to allow money to buy freedom. But not enough to surpass the number of lawmakers who have voted to allow judges to assess the risk and arrest those deemed dangerous or absconding risks, regardless of their wealth.

Implementation efforts continue, including possible veto votes at the technical aspects meeting. As the campaign rhetoric dies down, the reformers work on. One law, one vote, is never the whole story.

Scott T. Holland writes for Shaw Media on state government affairs. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at [email protected].