Illinois Advocacy Groups Push for End to Money Bond

Advocate Andy

Coalition pushes courts to support "Pretrial Fairness Act" and end the practice of money bond

A coalition of advocacy groups under the banner of the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice filed a brief in defense of ending money bond in the state. The move comes following a court decision which threatens to overturn the Pretrial Fairness Act and allow money bond to remain a pretrial punishment in Illinois.

“The time to end money bond in Illinois has arrived,” stated Ben Ruddell, Director of Criminal Justice Policy at the ACLU of Illinois. “We are confident that the Court will see that this law is constitutional, and that the policy will benefit thousands across Illinois. No one should be forced to languish in jail pretrial simply because they do not have resources.”

More than 400 organizations and individuals signed on to the brief in support of ending money bond in the state.

The brief notes that the current money bond system creates two-tiered administration of justice. Those who can't afford bond are subject to pretrial incarceration - which causes lost time with family, lost jobs, and lost potential.

“Before I was incarcerated pretrial, I had a thriving business and was able to provide for myself and my two children,” said Lavette Mayes, a mother who was incarcerated for 14 months awaiting trial because she could not afford her money bond. “I lost all of that simply because I couldn’t afford to pay a money bond set by a judge in a matter of 30 seconds with no consideration of my lack of a criminal record or the fact that I had a five and a 14-year-old to take care of at home. People shouldn’t have to go through that nightmare experience.” 

The coalition noted that the current system effectively criminalizes poverty and places undue hardship on those with the least resources.

“The current money bond system forces accused people without access to financial resources to make impossible choices and criminalizes poverty,” said Rev. Norma Patterson of Gamaliel Illinois. “The State’s Attorneys who filed this frivolous lawsuit will not stop our movement from bringing justice to communities suffering from disinvestment and crime that have been disproportionately impacted by the money bond system.” 

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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