To Release or Not to Release
In February 2021, the Illinois General Assembly enacted sweeping changes to the state’s criminal justice system. The 764-page bill (now Public Act 101-0652), which has since been amended in part, addresses police conduct, bail reform, and pretrial release among other issues. In their June Illinois Bar Journal article, "To Release or Not to Release," Emily L. Fitch and Brenda M. (Duke) Mathis note that many prosecutors across the state opposed the changes in the bill while many defense attorneys embraced them.
Fitch and Mathis go on to explain that the most notable change was to create a presumption that a defendant is to be released before trial with pretrial conditions effectively eliminating cash bond and that this presumption of a recognizance bond will now be mandatory instead of discretionary. One takeaway: Placing release conditions on, or detaining, a defendant will require a high burden of proof.