The Illinois Pre-Trial Fairness Act Eliminates Cash Bail

Rolled up $100 bills in handcuffs on wood table

The Illinois House and Senate passed a broad criminal justice reform bill on January 13, 2021. House Bill 3653 Senate Amendment 2 includes the Illinois Pre-Trial Fairness Act, which amends the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, making Illinois the first state to completely eliminate cash bail.

The amendments in question change the term “bail” to “pretrial release” in all mentions and remove language about sheriffs’ fees and credit and debit card payments in all relevant acts and codes.

As of January 1, 2023, posting monetary bail will no longer be a requirement of pretrial release.

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Other Important Changes

Although this is a huge development, it is far from the only important change found in House Bill 3653 Senate Amendment 2, signed into law as Public Act 101-062 on February 22, 2021. The so-called SAFE-T (Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity – Today) Act includes policing reforms, police certification and decertification procedures, pretrial reforms (including the elimination of cash bail as described above), prison and sentencing reforms, and other provisions.

The SAFE-T Act will not only abolish cash bail but also require police officers to be licensed by the state and wear body cams, make it easier to decertify police officers who commit misconduct, and improve an existing victims’ compensation program.

For a complete list of changes, please see the Summary of Provisions in Illinois House Bill 3653: Criminal Justice Omnibus Bill by the Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability at the Civic Federation or read the full bill here (opens a PDF).

Will the Other States Eliminate Bail?

For the time being, Illinois is the only state to completely eliminate cash bail, but the practice has been nearly eliminated in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Additionally, New York, California, and Alaska have proposed bail reform, but the reforms were rolled back in New York and Alaska, and California voters opted to keep cash bail intact.

As with any major change, the elimination of cash bail has been met with various responses. NPR has compiled some of the most popular opinions and important statements in its article, “Illinois Becomes 1st State To Eliminate Cash Bail.”

What Does This Mean for Me?

Because the Illinois Pre-Trial Fairness Act does not go into effect until January 1, 2023, cash bail is still in place. Even when the law goes into effect, you will still need an attorney to help you through the pretrial process.

Johnson Law Group brings over 100+ years of experience to every case we handle, and we stay up to date with all relevant acts and statutes. You can keep track of some of the most important developments in criminal defense by reading our blog.

As always, if you need help before, during, or after a criminal trial, please do not hesitate to call us at (309) 565-8825 or send us a message online today.

We are ready to fight for you throughout the entire legal process.

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