Illinois Governor Signs Bail Reform Measure

If you were to ask several random people to list the top three current problems with our criminal justice system, there is a good chance that many of the respondents would include overcrowded jails and prisons in their list. The concern over the nation’s large prison population is certainly founded in truth, and while the issue exists nationwide, taking action to remedy the problem falls largely to each individual state. Earlier this month, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill that is designed to lower the state’s incarceration numbers. The new law promises to reduce the number of criminal suspects who are forced to sit in jail and wait for a trial simply because they cannot afford to post bail.

Bipartisan Cooperation

For many Illinois residents, the cooperation between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of criminal justice reform was welcome and refreshing. “We, as the people of Illinois, can agree (this) is a fair way to address…things that are not done fairly,” said Democratic Senator Donne Trotter of Chicago. Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs agreed, “I think it’s important, it’s right, it’s fair, and it’s important for our society.” Durkin also commented that the bill is “tough on crime but also smart on crime.”

Provisions in the New Law

The new law went into effect immediately upon being signed by the governor and includes some noteworthy provisions. It specifies that a suspect has the right to an attorney during bail hearings, an important element in receiving fair treatment. The law also specifies that judges are encouraged to use non-monetary conditions of release whenever possible—such as electronic monitoring and curfews. Monetary bail can still be used in situations where the suspect is found to present a flight risk or a danger to the community. The new law is primarily intended to address the rights of non-violent offenders.

In jurisdictions around Illinois, prosecutors have expressed their intent to cooperate with the law’s efforts to reduce the population of local and county jails. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said that her office will immediately begin supporting the release of suspects without cash bond for minor offenses. She acknowledged that forcing suspects to remain in jail because they are poor is unjust and that the new law offers a level of fairness to a difficult situation.

Bail Questions

If a member of your family has been arrested and charged with a crime, you may have many questions about the state’s bail system. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet to get the answers you need. Call 815-740-4025 for a free, confidential consultation today.

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