Watch the Video

Every year, a quarter of a million people cycle through Illinois’ jails. Most of them are incarcerated not because they pose a threat to their community, but because they can not afford to pay a money bail. This unjust practice is coming to an end.

In January 2021, the Illinois legislature passed the Pretrial Fairness Act. This historic legislation restores the presumption of innocence and makes Illinois safer by ending money bond and the unconstitutional practice of caging people pretrial simply because they cannot afford to buy their freedom. The law will go into effect in 2023.

We must protect these crucial reforms from attacks rooted in racism and fear, which seek to perpetuate the system of mass incarceration.

A diverse movement for fairness, safety, & justice.

The Pretrial Fairness Act was written by advocates and organizers in the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice and the Coalition to End Money Bond. It was championed in Springfield by Senators Elgie Sims and Robert Peters and Representative Justin Slaughter and supported by thousands of people and more than 100 organizations, including victims' rights advocates.

Watch

Recent News

More than 150 faith leaders signed an open letter calling on state legislators to defend pretrial justice reforms and oppose policies promoting mass incarceration.

The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice released “From Policy to Progress: A Roadmap for Successful Implementation of the PFA”, a report with recommendations for the policy's implementation.

A fake newspaper about pretrial reforms hits Illinois mailboxes. "The racially-charged mailer was riddled with misinformation about the Pretrial Fairness Act, an element of the SAFE-T Act that will end money bond in Illinois in 2023."

THE PRETRIAL FAIRNESS ACT DISMANTLES A KEY DRIVER OF MASS INCARCERATION.

By ending money bond, Illinois is not only creating a fairer pretrial justice system, we are striking a massive blow to the racist prison industrial complex. Wealth-based pretrial jailing has coerced many people in Black, Brown, and poor communities into accepting plea deals they may not have taken if the court system had respected their right to be free awaiting trial. Incarceration destabilizes people’s lives, often causing them to lose jobs, housing, and even custody of their children, ultimately making it harder for people to rebuild their lives after their release from jail.

Over time, the changes made by the Pretrial Fairness Act will not only reduce the number of people caged in county jails but also the number of people in Illinois state prisons.

LEARN HOW THE PRETRIAL FAIRNESS ACT IS TRANSFORMING OUR LEGAL SYSTEM:

Read More

REDUCING INCARCERATION REDUCES CRIME & STRENGTHENS COMMUNITIES

Incarceration has never been an effective public safety strategy; it disrupts people’s lives in ways that destabilize families and communities and make us less safe. Limiting pretrial incarceration allows people to maintain relationships, jobs, and stability in their lives while awaiting trial—and our communities will be safer as a result.


250,000 People
People

Illinois incarcerates a quarter of a million people every year in county jails.

72 Hours
Hours

People incarcerated for as little as 72 hours are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed one year later

0 Cities
Cities

No state or city has seen a rise in crime as a result of reducing or eliminating their use of money bail.

Illinois incarcerates a quarter of a million people every year in county jails.

People incarcerated for as little as 72 hours are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed one year later

No state or city has seen a rise in crime as a result of reducing or eliminating their use of money bail.

Stories of Survivors of Pretrial Punishment

Public safety is not improved by money bond and pretrial incarceration

That's why major crime survivor groups support ending cash bail. Leaders from the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence wrote a compelling defense of the Pretrial Fairness Act:

"The protections for survivors in the bill are a step toward a better system for all. People with low incomes will no longer be locked up simply because they can’t pay bail. 

People won’t be incarcerated pre-trial because of racist and classist stereotypes that perpetuate fear against Black men, in particular. Survivors will be able to advocate for what they need to feel safe and secure."

Justice Is:
Bail
Jobs & Housing
Incarceration
Public Health & Safety
Surveillance
Community Investment
Punishment
Accountability & Healing

The Truth About Pretrial Justice Reform

Continue the Conversation

Cash bond reforms will make Illinois more fair

"Instead of prioritizing safety and using data to inform our pretrial policies, we have allowed fear to drive our policies and created a biased system that benefits those with financial means."

State Senator: Ending money bond won’t be the doomsday some are predicting

“By focusing on the risk an individual may pose to another person’s safety — and not their financial means — the Pretrial Fairness Act ensures that the safety of our communities is the central factor in a judge’s decision on whether to release someone pretrial.”

Ending cash bond in Illinois will make communities safer

“[The SAFE-T Act is] a way to make it safer in our communities, not less safe. The more people that understand that, the more we will be able to move to a society and a justice system that better addresses the needs of communities and not just the needs of people who can pay for themselves when they are accused of a crime”

There’s no ‘Purge Law’: Debunking right-wing propaganda about the SAFE-T Act’

“Republican elected officials and their allies have incessantly spread myths, half-truths, and obvious falsehoods about the SAFE-T Act.”

Rockford Clergy Members Show Support For Ending Cash Bail In Illinois

“When I tell you that I’m in favor of the Pretrial Fairness Act, ending money bond and reducing the number of people in our jails it’s because I’ve studied this and I know this is the right thing for my community and my state.”

State senators: This holiday, there’s no panacea for Chicago’s gun violence. Let’s find real solutions.

“It is well documented that overreliance on jailing does not reduce violence; it intensifies it. Pretrial incarceration makes people more likely to be arrested in the future, even when they are found innocent.”

The Southern: From Protest to Progress: An overview of Illinois’ criminal justice reform

"Law enforcement is spreading the narrative that ‘these dangerous predators will be out when this goes into effect’ but the truth is abolishing cash bail makes Illinoisans safer."

Op-ed: Ending cash bail will improve public safety

"Public safety is not improved by money bond and pretrial incarceration. It’s why the two major statewide anti-domestic violence coalitions supported the plan to end money bond that passed through the General Assembly earlier this month."

Illinois May Be First State to Eliminate Money Bail, But the Fight Isn’t Over

"The Pretrial Fairness Act will make Illinois’s pretrial system a national model. In addition to ending money bail, a variety of other provisions will improve the fairness of the state’s pretrial system and ensure that the vast majority of people are released before trial."

New no cash bail law provides hope for those in Chicago who’ve been unable to pay

"The law will bring 'hope into the Black and Brown community,' which has been impacted by pretrial incarceration. 'People who are coming home or have charges, making sure they are able to still work, provide for their families and try to put programs into the communities.'"

Illinois Will End Cash Bail - And Limit Use of High-Tech Incarceration

"The reforms will avoid the most dangerous pitfalls of quietly emerging 'alternatives' to money bail: algorithms that predict peoples’ 'risk' and detain those given higher scores, and surveillance devices that track people who maintain legal freedom before trial."

Illinois poised to become first state to end wealth-based pre-trial detention

"Numerous studies have shown that bail does little to achieve its intended purpose of ensuring court attendance – people released on their own recognizance were just as likely to come back to court for their trials as people who posted money bond and no more likely to reoffend awaiting trial."

Did Illinois get bail reform right? Criminal justice advocates are optimistic

"The bill is very well thought through and has real potential. By seeing the experiments in other jurisdictions, Illinois was able to really try to mitigate against falling into some of those same pitfalls."

Let’s Stop Pointing Fingers and Solve This Violence Problem Together

"Pointing fingers of blame will not make us any safer. It won’t bring us any closer to justice. It won’t stop the shooting or the looting, and our communities deserve more."

"A substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation, and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice."

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on the Pretrial Fairness Act

CONTACT Illinois LAWMAKERS

ADD YOUR CONTACT INFO

By taking action, you will also receive periodic communications from ColorOfChange. By providing your mobile number you consent to receive cell phone and text communications from ColorOfChange and its affiliated entities concerning news and action opportunities. Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 225568.

Problems? Contact info@colorofchange.org

SHARE REAL BAIL STORIES

STORY COLLECTION FORM FOR PUBLIC DEFENDERS

Right now, pro-carceral law enforcement and prosecutors are cherry-picking outlier cases and misrepresenting facts, the law itself, and case outcomes to try to defeat New York’s bail and discovery reform. We hope to collect your real stories about people released under the bail law. Please submit only one case story per form and please be careful not to provide information that may identify the client. If you have any questions, please contact us at stories@justicenotfear.org.

PERSONAL INFORMATION OF PERSON SUBMITTING:

PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION:

CASE AND CLIENT INFORMATION:

Mandatory release

DAT

Release Conditions

Services Provided (Check One or More)

Anything Specific About the Client That Is Helpful to Know (Check One or More)

Collateral Consequences Avoided (Check One or More)

Appearances in Court

Case Outcome (If Closed)

Case Still Open?

Report Fear

PERSONAL INFORMATION OF PERSON SUBMITTING:

Social Media

Location

Report Fear

Please share links to media that disseminates misinformation about the legal system, reform efforts, and/or the people directly impacted.

Report Truth

It is just as important to share truthful, reasoned sources on the same topic. Please share if you can.



Newsletter Signup