Illinois, Out on Bail
In Feb. 22, 2021, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law HB 3653. Among the many provisions contained within HB 3653 (now Public Act 101-0652) is the Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA), a massive overhaul of Illinois’ cash bail system. The PFA makes Illinois the first state to eliminate monetary bail, creating a system in which defendants will be released or detained pending trial based on their risk of nonappearance and/or their perceived dangerousness. If the individual does not fit a certain set of predetermined criteria, they must be released. In his June Illinois Bar Journal article, “Illinois, Out on Bail,” Thomas A. Drysdale compares Illinois’ new law to the federal criminal system, which has operated without cash bail for more than 35 years.
Passed in 1984, the Bail Reform Act is nearly identical to the newly enacted PFA; creates a presumption of release pending the outcome of a trial; and allows for detention only under certain, well-defined circumstances. Drysdale assesses outcomes of the federal Bail Reform Act and what its implementation may tell us about the future of the PFA.