The governor’s office is pushing lawmakers in the state to end cash bail. Lieutenant Governor Julianna Stratton spoke in front of the Special Committee on Public Safety last week asking for legislation to end the practice. “For many families, $1000 or even $100 in bond might as well equal $1,000,000. Each night, hundreds of thousands of people in our country are sleeping in jail cells simply because they cannot afford bail.”
Advocates for ending cash bail have said that the practice has a disproportionate effect on the poor. Those unable to post money to be released from jail while awaiting trial risk losing employment and rental housing and face greater pressure to accept unfavorable plea deals, according to a 2018 study published in the American Economic Review.
Many law enforcement officials spoke out against ending the system at the meeting. DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, representing the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association said that the justice system has to have a way to hold people in jail for their crimes so they can be tried in court and to ensure public safety.
The committee was comprised of both Illinois House and Senate members who are likely to propose criminal justice reform during the spring legislative session.