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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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Illinois becomes 1st State to Drop Cash Bail System as Criminal Justice Reform signed into law

CHICAGO – Illinois has become the first state in the nation to drop the cash bail system.

The move comes after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed HB 3653, The Safe-T Act, into law Monday, ending the practice of cash bail statewide.  

“This police reform and accountability and criminal justice legislation is a substantial step toward dismantling systemic racism by bringing us closer to true safety, true fairness, and true justice,” Pritzker said in a statement Monday morning after signing. “It moves Illinois from a pretrial detention system which prioritizes wealth to one that prioritizes public safety. It also improves access to substance use programs and modernizes sentencing laws. It requires more investments into officer training, mental health and officer wellness, and the use of body-worn cameras.”

New standards on crowd control and standards of force are also included in the legislation.

Opponents of the bill were quick to react Monday afternoon, including the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, who called the bill ‘a blatant move to punish an entire, honorable profession that will end up hurting law-abiding citizens the most.’

“This new law is a blatant move to punish an entire, honorable profession that will end up hurting law-abiding citizens the most. Because we are sworn to protect and serve the public, we sincerely hope that we will not be proven right about this new law, that it won’t cause police officers to leave the profession in droves and handcuff those who remain so they can’t stop crimes against people and property.” The Illinois Sheriff’s Association said following the signing of the bill.

Other opponents included Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy who said Monday the legislation would ‘allow anonymous complaints to end a police officer’s career’ while ensuring policing standards would become ‘more passive’ in nature. 

 “With the ending of cash bail, HB 3653 mandates the immediate release of persons arrested for burglary, arson, and kidnapping onto our streets while they await trial.” Tracy wrote. “The bill legalizes resistance to arrest in many cases and allows anonymous complaints to end a police officer’s career. If a body cam malfunctions or is not turned on properly during an incident, the police officer could now face a class 3 felony and up to five years in jail. Pritzker’s signing of this bill has ensured that police protection in Illinois will become more passive and criminals will become more aggressive.” 

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