It’s been more than a month since Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail entirely.
According to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, a total of 649 detention hearings were requested in the first month with people being detained in 60% of those cases.
Cases involving murder, vehicular hijacking and attempted murder had the highest rates of detention requests granted — at 93%, 94% and 89% respectively.
“We’re seeing less numbers in jail for low-level offenses,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said.
Foxx said her office was preparing for almost 18 months before the Pretrial Fairness Act went into effect in September.
“Overall, I think it has been relatively seamless given the gravity of what we’re doing,” she said.
Meanwhile, there has been about a 12% reduction in the overall Cook County Jail population, dropping from 5,531 a year ago to the current 4,846. Still, this steady decline predates the law’s implementation.
“I think judges were already preparing in anticipation of the Pretrial Fairness Act going into place before September,” Foxx said, “… and we’re seeing cases where people who were not going to be detained, were not being held, and so those people with low-level nonviolent offenses are not languishing for a day or two. … That’s why that daily population is staying low.”
Domestic violence survivor advocates have said the PFA would support survivors through various means, but numbers from Foxx’s office show only 39% of those facing domestic violence charges are detained since domestic battery is “often only considered a misdemeanor.”
“Even though that number is relatively low compared to the other cases, there are more cases of domestic battery being detained than before,” Foxx added. “Historically, those defendants who were accused were able to go while posting bail. While it pales in comparison with other cases, it is a significantly higher number of people who are being detained who are a threat to survivors than before. … We want to make sure that when we’re filing these detention hearings that we’re doing that on behalf of our survivors who are asking for them and doing a good job of educating the judge as to why that person poses a threat.”