Hearings scheduled to discuss elimination of cash bail in Illinois

CASH BAIL

Cash bail will be eliminated in Illinois as of Jan. 1, 2023, due to a criminal justice reform passed in Jaunary 2021, and the Illinois Supreme Court Pretrial Implementation Task Force is planning a series of town halls beginning in two weeks to give an update on what the new pretrial detention system will look like.

The first such hearing is scheduled to be conducted on Zoom at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 23. The town halls will update stakeholders and allow for questions regarding the changeover to a cash bail-free system.

A news release from the state Supreme Court noted that the task force created six subcommittees made up of more than 100 members including judges, sheriffs, police chiefs, state’s attorneys, public defenders, circuit clerks, pretrial officers, domestic violence advocates, victims’ rights advocates, community members with lived experience in the pretrial system, trial court administrators and researchers.

The Pretrial Fairness Act was one of the more controversial facets of the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform passed in January 2021, which has drawn the ire of Republicans looking to loosen the hold of Democrats on state government.

The Supreme Court’s pretrial reform work is in its fifth year, beginning with the Commission on Pretrial Practices that began studying the issue in 2017. The commission issued a report in 2020 that contained many suggestions taken into account in the Pretrial Fairness Act.

The Pretrial Implementation Task Force was formed to focus on implementing the suggestions in the report and is chaired by retired 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Robbin Stuckert.

“We have a little over six months before the (Pretrial Fairness Act) goes into effect and the clock is ticking,” Stuckert said in a news release. “We look forward to sharing the progress of the subcommittees and receiving feedback at the town halls.”

Future town halls are scheduled for noon July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15 and into 2023. Any questions regarding the town halls and the work of the Task Force can be sent to pretrialtaskforce@illinoiscourts.gov.

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