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Bill Aims To Eliminate Cash Bail

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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 lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and covering the equity beat. Maureen joined the Illinois Issues in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
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