State lawmakers are considering changes to the state's criminal justice system, including a proposal to end cash bail in Illinois.
At a hearing of the Special Committee on Public Safety this week, legislators heard from several officials about how to improve the justice system.
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton said the governor's office would like to end the practice of requiring people to post cash bail.
She said many people remain in jail after being accused of petty crimes because they can't afford bail.
Brittany Williams, a 29-year-old mother of three from Chicago, said her life was turned upside down in
October 2017 when her husband was arrested on a traffic charge. His bail was set at $100,000, meaning he needed to pay 10 percent, or $10,000, to be released.
"This experience was traumatic because it took time away from my newborn and it caused me to get back to work before I was even ready," Williams said.
Advocates for ending cash bail have said that the practice has a disproportionate impact on the poor. Those unable to post money to be released
from jail while awaiting trial risk losing employment and rental housing and face greater pressure to accept unfavorable plea deals, according to a 2018 study.
Law enforcement groups spoke in opposition to ending the cash bail system in Illinois.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin, representing the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association,
said prosecutors across the state have concerns about the proposal.
McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim asked committee members to consider the victims of crime.
The hearing included members of two Senate committees and one House committee that will
address criminal justice reform issues during the legislative session.
Other topics discussed at the hearing included reducing mandatory minimum sentences and the
need for more education, job training, and substance abuse treatment behind bars
Don’t expect to see a measure requiring gas attendants to pump your gas advance at the Illinois statehouse. State Rep. Camille Lilly tabled her bill Friday. There are several other bills that were filed before Friday’s deadline that are getting a lot of attention online. House Bill 5170 would require a million-dollar insurance policy in order to have a gun. In the Senate, Senate Bill 3313 would prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Senate Bill 2920 would ban single-use plastic straws unless requested by the customer. Lawmakers return Tuesday.