No cash bail in Illinois ‘nightmare’ for prosecutors, says Peoria defense attorney

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 7:55 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PEORIA (25News Now) - Cash bail is history in Illinois, and while there’s significant disagreement how its elimination will impact safety, all agree this is a huge change for the court system.

Illinois is the first in the nation to get rid of cash bail as a means of insuring that defendants appear in court.

Judges will now decide if suspects, the crimes they’re accused of committing and their criminal records make them too dangerous to be released while they’re awaiting trial.

Jon Giraudo is a former prosecutor in the Tazewell County State’s Attorney’s Office. He now has a private practice working as a defense attorney.

“In terms of being a defense attorney, this is a very good thing for us. This is a very good thing for our clients. If I was still a prosecutor, I would feel like this is a bit of a nightmare,” Giraudo said.

It’s a bit of a nightmare, said Giraudo, because within 48 hours, the state’s attorney’s office has to present evidence to the judge whether a defendant poses a threat to society.

“You have to talk about the very specifics in their history, the very specifics about this offense, why it’s heinous, why it requires detention, why they would pose a threat to any individual,” said Giraudo.

“The heavy lifting is 100% falling on the State,” he said.

Some defendants can be released on electronic monitoring, but forceable felony crimes like murder, burglary, residential burglary and robbery - release from jail will not be an option.

A community advocate is welcoming the new law, saying she knows first-hand that the old system was not fair.

“I have a family member that had to pay $4,000 for a nonviolent crime just to get out of jail,” said activist Gloria Clark.

“If you didn’t have the funds to get out of jail or a family member that could get you out, you sat there until you went to trial which is ludicrous,” said Clark.

Clark says the new system will help ensure those accused maintain the right to a fair trial and are innocent until proven otherwise in court.

“A lot of Black and Brown people who are losing their jobs and their homes. Even some people I worked with have lost their children because of being incarcerated over a long period of time waiting for a trial and everything is dismissed.” Clark said.