Illinois is poised to become the first state in the country to end the use of wealth-based pre-trial detention, reports The Guardian. The Pre-trial Fairness Act approved earlier this month by the state legislature significantly limits the types of charges eligible for pre-trial detention at the first court date, among other provisions. No one arrested for a misdemeanor, with the exception of domestic violence, can be jailed pre-trial and many other charges which are unlikely to result in conviction are also ineligible for pre-trial detention.
Wealth-based detention is at its core, a racial justice issue. Across the country, Black, Latino and indigenous people are detained pre-trial at far higher rates than people of other ethnicities. If given a money bail, Black people receive significantly higher bail than all other ethnic and racial groups and are less likely to be able to post the bail amount. In the last five years, organizers like Mayes and Peters with the Coalition to End Money Bond have attacked wealth-based incarceration from every possible angle, including a judge’s order in Cook county, home to Chicago, mandating that bonds be made affordable, and statewide legislation mandating review of unaffordable bonds. The bill still needs to be signed by the governor, JB Pritzker, who has long expressed his support. After that, the bill will be implemented over the course of two years.