Governor Rauner signed SB 2034, reforming Illinois cash bail system. The new law makes a number of changes to the current bail system. Most notably, the new law attempts to provide relief to indigent persons accused of low-level, non-violent crimes. Under the current system, many low-level offenders spend significant time in jail simply waiting for their case to be resolved because they can’t post bail.
Under the current system, many low-level offenders spend significant time in jail simply waiting for their case to be resolved because they can’t post bail. A person is only required to post 10% of the total bail amount. For example, if your bail is $1,000, you will need to post $100 in order to be released. However, many indigent offenders are able to come up with even these small amounts and remain in the county jail until their case can be resolved, usually by plea agreement or trial. Sometimes, this leads to a person spending more time in jail then they are ultimately sentenced to for their crime.
The new law creates a presumption that bail should be non-monetary. The non-monetary bail conditions include home-monitoring, drug counseling, stay-away orders, curfews, and in-person reporting to court or county personnel. If cash bail is used, and the person cannot pay it within seven days, they are entitled to a re-hearing on the amount and conditions of bail. Additionally, they are entitled to a credit towards the cash bail for each day served.
Proponents of the reform argue that keeping these low-level offenders locked up discriminates against the poor and costs taxpayers extraordinary sums of money to keep these people in jail for non-violent, low-level offenses, and it will help reduce jail overcrowding.
The bill did not include any provisions to make it more difficult for offenders with access to financial resources from illicit or gang activities to post bail as desired by the Cook County State’s Attorney.