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Prosecutor says some criminals are back on streets with no cash bail law

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(The Center Square) – An Illinois district attorney says the state’s no cash bail law is allowing for some criminals to remain free pending a court appearance.The Illinois Supreme Court declared the legislation ending cash bail constitutional. Beginning on Sept. 18, 2023, Illinois courts no longer used a cash bail system. Instead, they use a “pretrial release” system as allowed by the Pretrial Fairness Act found in the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act approved in early 2021. The Federalist Society hosted a discussion with legal experts on an update around bail reform after nine months. David Olson from the Criminal Justice Department at Loyola University said no cash bail looks different around the state.“This is a statewide law but every jurisdiction is implementing things a little bit differently and this is some of the stuff we are seeing early on with the research,” Olson said. DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said violent criminals are being held, but many other perpetrators go free. “Where I believe we are seeing some deficiencies are crimes like burglary, retail theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, these offenses, for the most part, judges can only detain if the defendant is a willful risk of flight, and that is a difficult standard to prove,” Berlin said. In DuPage County, Berlin said about a third of all their petitions for detention are domestic batteries or violations of orders of protection, and only 34% of those are held behind bars pending a court appearance, a number he calls low. Law enforcement agencies have opposed nearly every aspect of the SAFE-T Act, including no cash bail. Some, including the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, have expressed frustration by the lack of consistency on what is detainable. Since the Pretrial Fairness Act went into effect, a report indicates that appellate courts have been inundated with appeals cases. The Pretrial Release Task Force that was created by the Illinois Supreme Court called the increase “staggering.”

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