Sheriffs in Illinois’ southern region are expressing worry about the potential consequences of abolishing the state’s cash bail system. Franklin County Sheriff Kyle Bacon voiced the concerns of the community, stating that this decision feels like a risk to crime victims. The Illinois Supreme Court recently approved the removal of cash bail, making Illinois a trailblazer in completely ending this practice.
Starting on September 18, defendants in Illinois will no longer need to pay bail for their release while they await court proceedings, with certain exceptions for those deemed a threat or flight risk. However, this change puts significant pressure on law enforcement, as mentioned by Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard. He explained that they have been detaining individuals, only to potentially have them released due to the new stipulations in the SAFE-T Act.
Originally scheduled to take effect on January 1, this alteration is part of the 2021 criminal justice reform bill called the SAFE-T Act. However, its implementation was delayed due to a constitutional challenge by Illinois’ Attorney General. Law enforcement’s preparations were temporarily halted, but now they are once again facing impending changes.
The consequences and impacts of this decision will only become evident once the law is active, according to Franklin County Sheriff Bacon. This change poses new challenges for property owners, especially those with extensive lands, in areas like Franklin and Jefferson Counties that have seen their fair share of drug-related crimes and break-ins. Sheriff Bullard believes that these reforms will have a greater impact in smaller communities compared to bustling urban centers like Chicago, as crime deeply affects residents in these areas.
While proponents of bail reform argue that the current system is biased and adversely affects racial minorities, Sheriff Bullard holds reform advocates responsible for any potential negative outcomes. Despite the uncertainties ahead, both Sheriff Bullard and Sheriff Bacon remain dedicated to their duty. They acknowledge the upcoming challenges but affirm that they will continue to move forward and find solutions in these uncharted waters.
Looking Ahead: The Effects of Ending Cash Bail in Illinois on Safety and Crime