Illinois Legislative News – September 25, 2023

September 26, 2023

Each week, NASL member Third Reading Consulting Group sends an email to clients detailing the latest legislative news. Check out the most recent edition below and stay tuned for future updates.

On Monday, Illinois became the first state to end cash bail as a condition for pretrial release. Instead, judges have discretion over who can be released and who must be held in custody before trial. Under the new system, people accused of lower-level offenses will be released and expected to appear at their court date. The legislation includes a list of largely violent offenses that are automatically detainable. If someone is detained, they are given three free phone calls within the first three hours and must be brought in front of a judge for an initial hearing within 24 hours. If an offense in not automatically considered detainable, law enforcement could still decide to hold an individual in custody on the grounds that they pose a threat to themselves or the community.

Some controversy has arisen in the first few days since the law took effect. A number of examples have come out of people who were released by law enforcement but would likely have been held in custody under cash bail due to failure to post bail. Conversely, proponents of the legislation point out that dangerous individuals will no longer be allowed to post bail under the new system.

Illinois’ landmark criminal justice reform legislation, the SAFE-T Act, passed the General Assembly in January 2021. The bail reform provisions of the SAFE-T Act, known as the Pretrial Fairness Act, were initially scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023. Implementation was delayed until Monday due to a variety of legal challenges. All other provisions of the SAFE-T Act already took effect. Some implementation struggles are to be expected over the next few months. Trailer legislation could be considered in the 2024 legislative session if necessary.