Governor J.B. Pritzker has laid out his legislative goals in 2020. One of his goals is eliminating cash bail for all misdemeanors and many felonies. This is the wrong move for Illinois and specifically Ogle County.
I’m not advocating for individuals without criminal records to be held in jail for non-violent offenses while awaiting trial. However, those individuals who continue to break the law and/or commit violent and serious offenses represent a clear and present danger to our community and should have a cash bail (or no bail) set while awaiting trial.
Incarceration does not have to be viewed as strictly punitive. Inmates within the jail have access to addiction counseling and other programs that they would not have access to if they were released. If the legislation brought forward by Governor Pritzker and his allies is to just to throw the individual back onto the streets after being released without the tools to change their life than this becomes even more dangerous.
Of course, the financial component needs to be taken into consideration as well. Currently when someone posts bond, the money is collected and sent to the fines and fees fund. The fines and fees line item is largely transferred to the general fund and much of it is used to support law enforcement and the court system as well to fund attempts to make victims whole through restitution and programs that will aid in reducing recidivism. Ogle County is already facing a major challenge with the proposed closure of the Byron Nuclear Station.
One of my core beliefs is that we should allow local authorities to maintain as much power as we can. Tying the hands of our Judges and State’s Attorneys — people that we hold direct elections for — to release all individual with nothing more than a signature is the opposite of that. As Vice Chairman of the State’s Attorney, Probation, and Focus House committee, I believe it is prudent that we keep this battle in the forefront. Victims of crimes should not live in fear because the offenders are being set free almost immediately after being arrested.