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Bill Aims To Eliminate Cash Bail

Ilinois Senate Democrats
State Sen. Robert Peters has a proposal to end use of cash bonds.

Cash bond could be eliminated in Illinois if a push by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is successful.

State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) said his measure would benefit lower-income people who are sometimes detained as long as years waiting for their case to be brought to trial or dismissed because they can't make bail.

“It's a system where you have to pay to pass go. Iit doesn't mean someone is safe or unsafe, it means that someone is poor or rich,” he said,

A judge could order pretrial detention if a potential detainee is deemed dangerous.

Meanwhile, one public defender said he thinks a no-bail system invests too much power in a trial judge who can be swayed by outside political interests.

Madison County public defender John Rekowski said he appreciates that the bill would help those who can’t afford bond.

“But the flip side of that coin is that it also provides that people that we think should get out, at least on cash bail, will not be getting out if the judge decides it's a high-profile case or something like that,”  he said.

New Jersey and Washington, D.C. no longer have cash bail.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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