Illinois Supreme Court Commits To Reforming Pretrial Justice Procedures

Oct 27, 2016

The Illinois Supreme Court is committing to a redesign of pretrial justice procedures, which is the system in place to deal with individuals from the time they're arrested, until their case is resolved.

Credit Flickr user Tim (Timothy) Pearce / "Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california" (CC BY 2.0)

The state is working with the national Pretrial Justice Institute, which is trying to get 20 states on board. Its CEO, Cherise Fanno Burdeen, says Illinois is the second. 

Burdeen says one aim is to replace the cash bail system; she says risk should be based not just on the charge someone was arrested for, but also their criminal history.

"And if you make good decisions, about who's safe to release and who isn't, then you can apply the kinds of conditions upon their release that help ensure they get back to court and keep out of trouble," Burdeen said.

She says there's no evidence money bail helps with that. Another objective is to send fewer people to jail before trial, so only those deemed dangerous to society get locked up.

Though the changes are expected to be made largely through the judicial system, State Representative Carol Ammons, a Democrat from Urbana, backs the effort.