Illinois Eliminates Cash Bail

A measure barring the practice of cash bail went into effect in Illinois this week. The effort is seen by left-wing activists as part of a criminal reform effort, while many conservatives fear that eliminating cash bail will likely result in an increase in crime.

The bill had been passed by the Illinois state legislature and signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) last year, but faced a court challenge. In July, the bill was deemed constitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court and allowed to take effect earlier this week.

A number of alleged crimes will no longer require cash bail and judges will be less able to hold defendants prior to trial. Such offenses that no longer require cash bail include second-degree murder, kidnapping and burglary, among others.

The state has seen a significant increase in violent and property crime since the 2020 George Floyd riots, especially in Chicago, its largest city. Last weekend, 22 people were shot in the city, although there were no fatalities.

This represented just the second weekend of this year that there were no fatalities. Four of the injured were in critical condition.

Car theft has become such a significant issue in the city that Chicago’s leaders are suing Kia and Hyundai, claiming that their vehicles are too easy to steal.

Illinois is the first state to specifically bar cash bail, but not the first to experiment with the general premise. New York under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) passed a far-reaching bail reform bill that eliminated a number of types of bail and often would release suspects without holding them for trial.

The experiment has been sharply criticized by many members of both political parties. Since Cuomo’s original bill took effect in 2020, New York has seen a significant increase in crimes of all types. The original bill has been pared back considerably.

In particular, New York City saw a sharp increase in the number of burglaries, homicides and car theft.

California barred some forms of cash bail for poorer residents in 2021.