Illinois Considers Statewide Pretrial Services Amid Bail Reform

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Illinois is contemplating getting involved in pretrial services due to changes ushered in by the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, Equity-Today Act.

House Bill 4621, which has been sent to the governor for approval, proposes the establishment of the Office of Statewide Pretrial Services. This agency would offer pretrial services to circuit courts and counties currently lacking such agencies. There has been a surge in pretrial hearings since the elimination of cash bail under the Pretrial Fairness Act, a segment of the SAFE-T Act.

“We must ensure that every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, is afforded the same rights and opportunities during the pretrial phase,” stated state Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago.

State Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, explained that the bill responds to the Illinois Pretrial Services Act.

“Which became effective July 1, 1987, and requires every circuit to have a pretrial services agency,” Slaughter noted.

During discussions on the bill, Slaughter recognized that pretrial services have become more prominent with the increased number of individuals being released through the Pretrial Fairness Act, approved in 2021 as part of the SAFE-T Act. Statewide elimination of cash bail only commenced once court cases were resolved by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2023.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, expressed satisfaction with the current local system.

“Some of the problems I have with the bill are philosophical,” Windhorst said. “I think these offices are better handled either in the counties or at the circuit level.”

The proposed measure would offer pretrial services at no extra cost to counties, but state taxpayers would face an initial cost increase of $2.7 million.

The measure is now pending the governor’s signature.

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