"What's Going On In Your Justice System Today?" Cash Bail Edition
By: Shamona Rodney
Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today,the SAFE-T Actwas an initiative backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus created with the intent of a nationwide reckoning with racism in the criminal justice system following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Cash bail criminalizes poverty, fuels mass incarceration, and disproportionately affects communities of colour, especially the Black community.
The Loyola University of Chicago’s Center for Criminal Justice Researchanalyzed Illinois State Police datafrom 2020 to 2021, stating that individuals jailed pretrial in Illinois spent an average of 34 days incarcerated.
In ending cash bail, jurisdictions are redesigning their pretrial systems to reduce the overuse and misuse of jails. The numbers are predicted to decrease under the Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) for those committing lesser offences
while likely increasing for those held for more serious crimes.
You probably have many questions about the no cash bail system—who, what, where, when, why and how. Let me help you with a few.
What is the ‘Cash Bail System’?
The Cash Bail System is the practice of releasing defendants from custody before their hearing(s) on a monetary deposit. However, the accused must return to court as necessary to regain said offering/ deposit.
Where has the Cash Bail System been curtailed?
States such as Kentucky, New Mexico, California, New Jersey, and New York have all passed legislation essentially curtailing the use of cash bail for pretrial detentions.
When will the Cash Bail System be abolished in Illinois?
The state of Illinois will go one step further on January 1st, 2023, as it will eliminate cash bail.
Why is the Cash Bail System being abolished?
The cash bail system is deemed unfair to low-income people and people of colour.
Dismissing the cash bail system may require an alternative. The goal of the Pretrial Fairness Act is to move away from the existing wealth-based system correlating with pretrial detentions favouring one based on an offender’s risk of reoffending or fleeing prosecution.
The law’s silence on the following leaves to be interpreted in court:
“What will become of those already detained before the cash bail system is eliminated?”