ROCKFORD — Within hours of Gov. JB Pritzker signing House Bill 3653 into law Monday, area proponents and opponents of the expansive justice reform package made their thoughts known.
Some said the bill will usher in more transparency and fairness in the justice system and is a big step forward in rooting out systemic racism.
Others said the law still has shortcomings and called various aspects of it “ridiculous” and “anti-police.”
A major piece, if not the centerpiece of the bill, is the Pretrial Fairness Act, which does away with the state’s cash bail system by 2023.
“I’ve never believed that your ability (or inability) to pay a pretrial bond should become the opportunity to keep you detained,” said former state Rep. Litesa Wallace, who has long advocated for ending cash bail in Illinois. “I believe that penalizes individuals without economic resources.”
The elimination of cash bail was a part of her platform when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2018.
As of right now, arrested individuals who can’t afford bond remain incarcerated until their trial begins. During that time, they may lose their job and housing for crime “that they may or may not have committed,” Wallace said.
Come 2023, however, whether or not a person is released pretrial will be based on judicial discretion and perhaps a heavier reliance on risk assessment tools. Wallace is OK with that.
“I believe we have to focus on safety versus ability to pay,” she said.