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American Thinker
American Thinker
22 Jul 2023
Chris Talgo

NextImg:Wholesale elimination of cash bail in Illinois is dumb and dangerous

This week, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling on the fate of the recently signed SAFE-T Act, which basically eliminated the use of cash bail for pretrial detention. In short, the state’s highest court ruled in favor of the law, arguing, “The Illinois Constitution of 1970 does not mandate that monetary bail is the only means to ensure criminal defendants appear for trials or the only means to protect the public. Our constitution creates a balance between the individual rights of defendants and the individual rights of crime victims.”

Social justice advocates, including Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx, have universally praised the ruling. According to Foxx, the ruling is, “a monumental milestone toward achieving equal justice for all in Cook County and Illinois.”

Foxx added, “Ending cash bail is in line with our values and is a critical step toward economic and racial justice in Cook County and Illinois, which is why I have supported and advocated for its end from the beginning. I will continue to support our court stakeholders as they prepare to implement the end of the cash bond.”

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson also celebrated the ruling, saying, “Cash bail does not make communities safer, and it never has; it has simply exacerbated existing inequities and disparities in the criminal legal system. Pretrial detention, as a result of the inability to pay bail, further decimates communities that have long been most impacted by mass incarceration, and the destabilization of households and families.”

Unfortunately, Johnson, Foxx, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who are all-in on ending cash bail, are dead wrong when it comes to this life and death issue.

All these officials claim that ending cash bail does not lead to increased crime, however, the facts say otherwise.

Consider. In 2020, California temporarily suspended cash bail in an effort to alleviate overcrowding in its jails during the pandemic. What happened next? If you guessed that California experienced a spike in crime and that the vast majority of those let loose without paying a penny in bail committed new crimes, you would be correct.

According to Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, “the Yolo County District Attorney’s office conducted an analysis of $0 bail and rearrests. Recent criminal histories of the 595 individuals released on $0 bail in Yolo County were reviewed for any new arrests in the state of California. Of the 595 individuals released, 420 were rearrested (70.6%) and 123 (20% of the overall number or 29% of those rearrested) were arrested for a crime of violence. The crimes of violence included murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, carjacking, and domestic violence.”

Like California, and many other states for that matter, Illinois is dealing with a large crime uptick. Specifically, crime is surging in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

Also, like California, Illinois in general, and Chicago in particular, has failed to float any solutions to the disturbing spike in crime.

Actually, state and city leaders seem more preoccupied with handcuffing the police than they are handcuffing and jailing suspects of crimes. For example, did you know that Chicago police officers are not allowed to chase potential suspects on foot? This is but one of many insane policies that are preventing Chicago’s finest from properly policing a city that is facing a crime crisis.

Sadly, those who will pay the price for the state’s misguided zero bail policy will be predominantly minority communities, because this is where the vast majority of crimes occur in cities like Chicago.

Can someone please explain to me how ending cash bail, which results in criminals committing more crimes while putting law-abiding citizens at greater risk, could possibly be considered a “monumental milestone” and a “critical step toward economic and racial justice”?

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.orgis editorial director at The Heartland Institute.

Image: Daniel Schwen