All people are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
It’s a fact of civil rights stated in the U.S. Constitution. One group in Chicago is asking Illinois’ Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices to reform the way alleged criminals are asked to pay for their crimes before a court date. The Chicago Community Bond Fund is trying to eliminate cash bond and pretrial incarceration in the state because they say it disproportionately effects the poor and people of color.
Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll says that certain steps have already been taken for people to bond out before trial.
“Recently, the Illinois state legislature and by recently I mean a year ago when the first reform act went into effect, the purpose of that act is t direct courts to utilize non-monetary bond whenever possible. That was a change to how things were done before January 1st, 2018. Certainly, the Supreme Court and the Illinois state legislature has modified the rules applicable to pretrial bail and pretrial release.”
Noll describes who is eligible for the bail program in Illinois.
“An individual who was arrested on most non-violent crimes and crimes that are class 3 felonies, class 4 felonies, or misdemeanors. Generally speaking, they receive a 30 dollar a day credit towards their bail. So if an individual has a 300 dollar bond, so a 3,000 dollar bond and 10% to apply, they have to post 300, then they would zero out after 10 days and not have to post any money whatsoever.”
Noll says that doing away with cash bond and incarceration is going to be dangerous in certain circumstances.
“I believe there is a movement now to get rid of cash bond altogether. Certainly my office has concerns about a universal, and doing away with cash bonds completely given that some individuals that are arrested absolutely need to be separated from society for a period of time even in a pretrial state of offense. There are individuals that are certainly dangerous to society and there are individuals out there that are arrested that are a danger to loved ones. We have domestic violence situations everyday here in Morgan County where an individual certainly needs to at least cool off while they are in jail.”
Noll understands the idea that it’s to a person’s benefit that they don’t want to spend time in jail before they go to trial, especially if there is a chance of someone being innocent. However, he says the bill has another problem in that it can sometimes cause for more jail time in the long run, especially if someone fails to appear for their court date.
“The reality of this bill especially when it comes to commissions of felony is having a detrimental effect on the defendant in that, if any individual is arrested for a felony and than bonds out or zeroes out and they commit another felony while on pretrial release, if they are sentenced to the department of corrections in both cases they are mandatorily consecutive. Meaning that if an individual receives two years in the department of corrections on the first case and two years in the department of corrections on the second case, than it is a total of four years as opposed to most felonies that run concurrently if they were to receive any prison time.”
Noll said that the failure to appear cases have gone up in the county since the law’s implementation on 2018 putting a stress on law enforcement resources as well as causing individuals to spend more time in jail.
The Supreme Court commission is expected to announce their reforms to pretrial procedures in December.