In November of 2021 we covered the SAFE-T Act. Now, new developments and the end of cash bail in Illinois are making waves within law enforcement. Read our blog to learn more.
The SAFE-T Act: Updates
In November of 2021 we covered the newly enacted Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act signed by Illinois Governor Pritzker. The law was drafted to combat pain points within the criminal justice system like excessive police force, officer training, and arrests. One of the provisions, a reform to eliminate cash bail, is set to go into effect January 1, 2023.
Law enforcement and prosecutors are concerned that eliminating cash bail would create issues in the legal process. Keep reading for more information about cash bail and the SAFE-T Act.
What Is Cash Bail?
In general, when a person is arrested for a crime, they can either pay cash bail and be released or stay in jail until their trial. The amount of cash bail varies depending on the crime, but according to a study from the Civil Rights Corps, at least 70% or more of all felony defendants have to pay $5,000 or more for release.
Immediate access to several thousand dollars is not possible for most people. In fact, at least 4 in 10 adults would not be able to cover a $400 emergency expense much less a cash bail amount. Because bail has increased exponentially and statistically, low-income people are arrested most often, jail for those who cannot afford bail has become comparable to debtors’ prison from Victorian England.
It is for this reason, that proponents of the SAFE-T Act praise the elimination of cash bail. However, law enforcement officers from Grundy County and other areas are concerned about the future without cash bail.
Police and Prosecutors
Grundy County Sheriff Ken Briley told reporters that he is concerned that the SAFE-T ACT would ban arret for people accused of misdemeanors like trespassing.
“Today, I can arrest him if you sign a complaint for trespassing. January 1st, I’m not going to be able to do that. The law says I have to write him a ticket and leave.”
Sheriff Briley’s concerns are not isolated. Prosecutors are also concerned that criminal activity would increase in the absence of cash bail. Many in the criminal justice system uphold the belief that cash bail is a deterrent to criminal activity and ensures court appearance.
However, studies show that low-income people detained for a week or less are 40% more likely to reoffend.
Whether the elimination of cash bail encourages or has little effect on crime is yet to be seen. Illinois is the first state to eliminate cash bail in its entirety. Researchers and criminal justice reform advocates are committed to waiting for years to prove that cash bail does more harm than good.
If you have been accused of a crime, contact Johnson Law Group.