Illinois Eliminates Cash Bail
Setting the stage for a significant overhaul of its criminal justice system, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a 700 page bill that he called a step toward “dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities..” Safia Samee Ali of NBC News reports that the bill HB 3653 gives more rights to suspects, places new requirements on policing and eliminates cash bail for most arrestees, which supporters term “wealth-based detention.” While law enforcement groups have opposed the elimination of cash bail, NPR reports that supporters point to studies that show little-to-no increase in crime caused by the near elimination of cash bail in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
This comes as data from across Cook County shows record breaking increases in violent crime. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed 875 gun related homicides in 2020, breaking the previous record of 838 set in 1994. The office released the grim statistic along with other preliminary case data for 2020 Friday. The office handled a total of 970 homicides in 2020. That’s a more than 40% increase over 2019’s total of 675. Black people were the victims of 78% of homicides and Latinos accounted for more than 16% of homicide deaths. It looks a lot like there is an alarming systemic racism problem with regard to homicide victims, caused by a high number of criminals allowed to avoid incarceration until they kill somebody. Not exactly the right time to restrict proactive policing and let arrestees walk with no bail.