BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Criminal justice systems across the state have been adjusting to the abolishment of cash bail in Illinois, which has been in effect since September 18th.
While Boone County State’s Attorney Tricia Smith said that it is too early to see any real results of the Pretrial Safety Act, she says her office is getting accustomed to the new rules.
“We’re doing our best to be in compliance and to treat everybody fairly. And that’s all we can do at this point,” Smith said.
Under the Pretrial Fairness Act portion of the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity Act (SAFE-T Act), judges must decide within 48 hours if someone charged with a crime should be held in jail.
Non-violent offenders are given a notice to appear at their court date and released without bail.
To get ready for the new rules, law enforcement agencies had to learn the new procedures.
“There are a lot of different forms and procedures that had never been done before,” Smith said. “So we actually had a meeting this morning within our courthouse with the judges, circuit clerk, public defender, myself, just to review what has happened within the last week.”
Smith mentioned that the added work with the new legislature will lead to a need for more jobs. The lack of money bond will create a major hit to funding, specifically the Circuit Clerk, she said.
“A large portion of her budget will no longer be available to her. And then the other 90% of that bond typically would be sent to all sorts of different funds throughout the county and the state to fund different aspects of the criminal justice system,” Smith said.
The justice system will pay attention to trends in the jail and if the cells aren’t used, the County may need to consider a new use of that space.
“One of the things that I know the sheriff has spoken about with other agencies is, this [may be] a time to maybe go to a jail that’s shared by several communities instead of one,” Smith went on to say. “I’m not saying that that’s the route they’re going, but that’s something to be considered in the future. If the population does stay low.”
Winnebago County is holding a Pre-Trial Fairness Act Panel on September 27th at 5:30 at Veterans Memorial Hall.