Illinois Becomes First State to Commit To Eliminating Cash Bail

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a number of sweeping criminal justice and police reforms into law, which includes eliminating cash bail for pretrial detainees.

Under the Pretrial Fairness Act, which was spearheaded by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, a judge can still detain an individual if they’re charged with felonies such as murder or domestic battery.

Those who aren’t deemed a threat to the community won’t be required to obtain cash to be released from jail prior to trial.


HB 3653: Here’s A Look At What’s Included

A bill that brings sweeping criminal justice and police reforms, including the end of cash bail in Illinois, is now headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk.

House Bill 3653, authored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, was approved by Illinois General Assembly Wednesday, bringing significant changes to things like police training policies, police accountability, transparency in law enforcement and the rights of detainees and prisoners.

Among the changes the bill would bring are the elimination of monetary bail, a requirement that all police officers wear body cameras by 2025, a ban on all police chokeholds…


Criminal Justice Reform Bill Headed To Governor’s Office After Passing Illinois House, Senate

The Illinois House has passed a sweeping criminal justice reform package.

It passed in the House with a 60-50 vote. The bill already passed the Illinois Senate in the early morning hours Wednesday. It will now be sent to Governor JB Pritzker for approval and signing.

It is part of a larger plan authored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to rid Illinois of, what it calls, systemic racism.


COVID-19 Compels America To Rethink Who We Lock Up In Prison

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the limits of our criminal justice system.

Now, we have an opportunity to change it for the better. We should start by following the science, advocating for our most vulnerable populations to have access to protections, treatments and vaccines.

Then we need to ask a bigger question — whether it makes sense to incarcerate so many people in the first place.

Even as the first doses of the vaccine are administered, we are in for a tough winter. And people locked up in prisons, jails and detention centers are among those most at risk of contracting COVID-19, becoming gravely ill, or worse.


As COVID-19 Rips Through Cook County Jail, Time To Take A Hard Look In The Mirror

Whatever your opinions are regarding the ways we address the growing use of pretrial detention in America, I hope you’ll see that what is happening in Cook County Jail right now far exceeds the issue of bail. What we have is a human crisis that calls for action, compassion and courage.

This month, the jail hit an all-time high of more than 300 COVID-19 cases among the incarcerated population, and dozens among the jail staff. Scores of residents and public servants funnel in and out of the facility every day and return home to their communities. A hotspot at the jail creates a risk for all. Since the first COVID-19 case at the jail was reported in March, more than 1,100 people have tested positive inside the facility. Now with winter upon us, the jail’s infection totals have climbed back to April levels.

This threat to public health dictates that we must exhaust all avenues to drastically reduce the population of roughly 5,500 so social distancing is even an option inside the facility.


80% of those who Died of Covid-19 in Texas County Jails were Never Convicted of a Crime

Over 230 people have died from Covid-19 in Texas’s correctional facilities — and in county jails, nearly 80 percent of them were in pretrial detention and hadn’t even been convicted of a crime.

At least 231 people have died of Covid-19 in the state’s correctional facilities between March and October.

The 231 figure is likely to be a conservative count.


7 Guiding Principles

J.B. Pritzker announced 7 guiding principles to build a more equitable criminal justice system.

“We cannot truly have justice without equity and opportunity. These principles will guide us on a path of repairing the historic harm caused by our justice system, especially in Black and Brown communities. Comprehensive justice reform will help to reverse the systemic cycles that tear apart families, lay barren communities, lead to overcrowded jails, put strains on criminal justice infrastructure, and burden taxpayers.”