By Avery Redula and Kaveh Nasseri
CHICAGO, IL – Illinois became the first state to eliminate the practice of utilizing cash bail as a pretrial release condition through passing the Pretrial Fairness Act, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.
Insha Rahman, the Vera Institute’s vice president of advocacy and partnerships, issued a statement in support of the act, crediting Illinois officials with “making history,” and Illinois will join the various jurisdictions that have “taken steps in recent years to make fairness and safety, not money, the determining factor of who is released from jail pending trial.”
According to Rahman, the evidence indicates cash bail contributes to inequality, privileging the wealthy and disproportionately targeting people of color.
Rahman cited data from New Jersey, where bail reform led to “a significant drop in the jail population without compromising safety.” She pointed to another study in New York, where it was found that such bail reform did not contribute to more crime.
Rahman credited local advocacy groups and Illinois officials with the success of the Pretrial Fairness Act, noting, “This victory is the result of years of organizing and advocacy by many,” highlighting the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice in particular.
The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice was inspired to enact justice for the hundreds and thousands of Illinois residents who are kept in jail pretrial because they are too poor to post cash bails.
On its website, the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice details that these indigent jailed individuals often receive longer sentences than others who have enough financial security to pay bail, despite having similar charges or backgrounds.
The passage of the Pretrial Fairness Act not only assists the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice in their purpose and advocacy, but will also significantly lessen jail overcrowding and aid against the over-policing of Black and Brown communities, the network claims.