Law enforcement address concerns, explain what the end of cash bail means for Illinois

Starting Monday, cash bail in Illinois is no more.
Starting Monday, cash bail in Illinois is no more.(WGEM)
Published: Sep. 17, 2023 at 3:27 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - On Monday, Sept. 18, Illinois will become the first state to fully eliminate cash bail. In July, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled provisions of the SAFE-T Act to be constitutional, then giving law enforcement roughly two months before it would be implemented.

“I think the law could have been written in a way that was much clearer and much easier to implement, but we’re beyond that point now,” said Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones.

Jones made it clear, that come Monday, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office isn’t releasing any one from the jail because of the new law. Instead, it will change the procedure by which someone is arrested or not and if they will remain in jail.

“There’s not going to be a mass exodus from the jail,” Jones said.

Felonies like first and second-degree murder, home invasion and aggravated kidnapping will remain detainable offenses, but for crimes that are neither a felony nor a class-a misdemeanor, an arrest won’t occur and a court citation will be issued instead.

If an arrest does occur, the offender must see a judge within 48 hours. Then, a judge will determine whether or not the person will remain behind bars. Jones said prosecutors can make requests that the offender remain detained, but the judge ultimately has the final say.

“We’re just looking at how we’re going to move forward and adopt the law and use the tools that we have to keep the community safe,” Jones said.

Adams County Chief Deputy Patrick Frazier is concerned with repeat offenders getting out jail when he believes they shouldn’t.

In scenarios when someone is given a court citation and they don’t appear, it’s the Adams County Sheriff’s Office’s burden to find that individual. If said person is found outside of their jurisdiction, Frazier said his office has five days to bring the offender back to Adams County.

“It’s yet to be seen, but we may have more work on the back side of it,” Frazier said.

Last week, the Sheriff’s Office met with Adams County prosecutors for a second round of training on the implementation of the new law.

The original SAFE-T act was passed more than two years ago. Cash bail was originally supposed to end on Jan. 1, 2023, but the new law was challenged by law enforcement statewide.

As for those who were arrested and booked before Monday, Jones said they can petition and be seen by a judge. Jones mentioned with the elimination of cash bail also comes the idea that a failure to appear in court immediately results in being detained in the jail.

“We’ve been spending the last nine months figuring out how we’re going to implement it, and really ignoring the fact that we may disagree with how it was carried out,” Jones said.


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