Illinois Becomes 1st State To Eliminate Cash Bail

Illinois Governor signed a bill last Monday making Illinois the first state in the country to abolish cash bail payments for jail release for people who have been arrested and are waiting for their case to be heard. The practice has long been controversial with criminal justice reform advocates who call cash bail a "poor people's tax" that has had a disproportionately negative impact on people of color. It leaves those who can't come up with the money in jail for weeks or longer or even accepting plea deals as a way to get out.

The Illinois Pre-Trial Fairness Act, as it's called, is part of Illinois House Bill 3653, a sweeping package of criminal justice measures. Some of the provisions include requiring police officers to be licensed by the state and to wear body-cams by 2025, expanding training opportunities for officers, making it easier to decertify police officers who commit misconduct, and improving a victims compensation program by making resources more readily available to survivors. Many portions of Illinois House Bill 3653 will go into effect on July 1, however it will be another two years, January 2023, until the no cash bail policy is put in place.


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Oregon still has a cash bail system in place, although there have been discussions about rethinking that system. In Oregon, when a person is arrested for a crime, depending on the charges, a judge can set a monetary bail amount ⁠— 10% of which must be paid for a defendant to be released from jail before court hearings or an eventual trial.