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Illinois Passes Pre-Trial Fairness Act, First State to Pass Such Legislation

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A bill that would end cash bail in Illinois was passed last Wednesday, spearheaded by the state’s Legislative Black Caucus.

What We Know:

  • The Pre-trial Fairness Act was passed last week and is currently awaiting Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature. Pritzker has previously expressed support for the bill, which would make Illinois the first state in the country to end all cash bail.
  • Across U.S. courtrooms, judges offer pre-trial release payments, or bond/bail, to incarcerated individuals which allows them to be released prior to their hearing. If the individual does not pay the bond, they remain in jail despite being legally innocent. This institution creates a classist and racist system of justice where the wealthy can pay their way out of incarceration while those who can’t afford it may even receive a harsher prison sentence.
  • As reported by The Guardian, Black, Latino, and indigenous people are detained pre-trial at significantly higher rates than people of other ethnicities. If given a money bail, Black people receive far higher bail than all other ethnic and racial groups and are less likely to be able to post the bail amount. The bail system consists of a thoughtless price usually set by a judge in a matter of seconds, allowing people with almost identical charges to be assigned bails that differ by tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Briana Payton, a policy analyst for the Chicago Community Bond Fund, tells The Daily Northwestern that the system, “is profoundly unjust. It essentially puts a price tag on someone’s freedom.” She adds that defendants incarcerated before their trial could also lose housing, employment, or custody over children.
  • Despite the tremendous movement toward justice reform, the bill faces a ton of backlash. More than 112,000 people have signed a petition opposing the bill, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Illinois State’s Attorneys Association put out a statement saying the bill has provisions that are “deeply problematic and will only result in further significant increases in violent crime, undermine public safety, and deny justice to crime victims.”

After being signed, the bill will be implemented over the course of two years, creating a new system that will hopefully encourage other states to follow suit and work towards criminal justice reform across the nation.

The post Illinois Passes Pre-Trial Fairness Act, First State to Pass Such Legislation appeared first on Black News Alerts.

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