State lawmakers are discussing criminal justice reforms such as ending cash bail in Illinois.
At a hearing in Chicago, legislators heard from several people about how to improve the justice system. Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton is pushing to eliminate cash bond.
“You see for many families $1000 or even $100 in bond might as well equal a million. Each night hundreds of thousands of people across the country are sleeping in jail cells simply because they cannot pay bail,” said Stratton.
But DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin says there are concerns about letting people off without a cash bond in place.
“What is the purpose of bail? It is to assure a defendant’s appearance in court, that they will appear. But it is also for the protection of the public and we need to have a system that can identify and distinguish those defendants,” said Berlin.
Berlin and other State’s Attorneys say there should still be bail for serious felony crimes and both the defendant and the state should be able to immediately appeal a judge’s decision.
Others at the hearing discussed reducing mandatory sentences and the need for more education, training, and substance abuse treatment behind bars.