Democrat Governor Makes Illinois the First State to Eliminate Cash Bail
Undeterred by the nationwide crimewave in 2020 that’s continuing into this year, Illinois Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed so-called “criminal justice reform” legislation that makes his state the first in the union to completely eliminate cash bail.
Other states including New Jersey, New York, and California have limited the use of bail, but Illinois has passed the most liberal and least sane version of this kind of policy. According to Just The News:
In a statement announcing and detailing the legislation, the governor’s office said that the policy reform will help move Illinois “from a system of pretrial detention that prioritizes wealth, to one that prioritizes public safety.”
Pritzker said the legislation “marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice.”
The bill is one of a number of legislative reforms that Pritzker’s office says are focused on increasing “safety, fairness and justice by transforming the state’s criminal justice system.”
The state has a couple of years to implement the system – and it’s not currently clear how it’ll work, though it seems essentially all defendants will now go free unless a judge deems them an excessive risk.
Even before the law fully takes effect we can comfortably declare it a future failure.
As I documented in my new book, we already got a preview of what’s to come from New York’s bail reform reform that took effect in 2020.
In total, New York’s 2019 bail reform law eliminated cash bail for 90 percent of arrests, enabling defendants to await trial at home. Crimes that no longer required bail included suspects accused of second-degree manslaughter, aggravated vehicular assault, third-degree assault, criminally negligent homicide, and aggravated vehicular homicide, among nearly a hundred other crimes.
The law took effect on New Year’s Day 2020, and the consequences were immediately made clear. Just three months into bail reform, the NYPD cited it as a significant reason behind the immediate spike in crime. In just the first two months of the year, the NYPD released statistics showing that nearly five hundred suspects who would’ve otherwise been in jail awaiting trial committed an additional 846 crimes they wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to commit. Nearly three hundred of those crimes included murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto.
The number of crimes going to trial also fell. Prosecutors in NYC declined to prosecute 11 percent of all non-bail-eligible felony arrests in January and February, or 803 crimes. The year prior they declined to prosecute 527, or 6.7 percent of all non-bail felony arrests. There were 16,343 “major crimes” reported in the first two months of 2020 compared to 13,648 the year prior.
Those released on bail reform made up nearly 2 percent of the entire crimes in the city for the year and caused 10 percent of the spike.
By April Cuomo signed a new law undoing part of the prior bail reform. How long until Illinois reverses course?
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