No more cash bail, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle react to its elimination

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 7:30 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - The wait is over.

Monday, Sept. 18th, 2023 marked a new day in U.S. legislative history, as Illinois became the first state to end cash bail.

To some, it will mean an opportunity to get out of jail without paying some kind of bond.

“The pre-trial fairness act ensures justice for vulnerable communities,” said Transformation Justice Task Force representative Vanessa Knox. “This is an equality issue, and money should never determine or decide anyone’s value.”

As the disagreement continues on the topic of the state’s decision to eliminate cash bail, lawmakers are voicing their opinions on the new law.

To others, it means offenders are released back to their communities, especially in Peoria.

“They want to have safe communities more than anybody. They’re the people that are at risk,” said State Rep. Travis Weaver (R-Pekin).

Weaver represents part of Peoria and said this could come at a cost, especially for more urban cities he represents.

“I think of all the times when you can do something like this, right now, when we have an all-time, high-level crime wave is really a wrong time to be doing this,” said Representative Weaver.

Weaver said in one county in his district, it’s estimated up to one-third of the people in the jail could be released, under the new lens of the no-cash bail system.

State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Chanmpaign) claimed those with non-violent charges though, deserve an equal opportunity to defend themselves.

“Do not hold people that should not be held. If they are not a risk, and it’s a demonstrated risk, according to the implementation strategy,” said Rep. Ammons.

“You must demonstrate what makes them a risk to hold them beyond the time that’s set,” Ammons added.

Rep. Weaver believes it’s only a matter of time before there is another court challenge to this law.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys we talked to agree there is a learning curve on how to navigate this brand-new system.