As part of a criminal justice “reform” effort, the state of Illinois is preparing to unleash the first statewide no-cash bail law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and the ramifications could be disastrous.
The policy, or variations of it, have already been implemented in a number of areas, generally promoted by radical District Attorneys (DAs) who have decided that, rather than using a financial commitment (bail) from an accused individual to better ensure that person shows up for their day in court, an honor system is all that is needed.
In simple terms, someone caught committing a crime, or arrested for committing a crime after an investigation, is brought before a judge, and if they plead “not guilty” to the crime (or crimes) for which they are charged, the judge sets a trial date. It is during this process that, usually, people can be released from jail while they wait for their trial date (pre-trial release), provided they give certain assurances they would actually show up for that date.
DAs, historically, have asked for financial guarantees that the accused will come back to face trial. For some of the more serious crimes, or crimes for which the prosecution (DA) has what it feels is nearly irrefutable evidence of guilt, the prosecution either asks for a great deal of money (bail), or asks the defendant be held with no bail.
Judges—again, historically—then look at everything presented thus far, and determine either an appropriate level of bail, or deny bail. But certain radical DAs believe that, for most crimes—including some very violent crimes—a mere promise to return for trial from the accused is all that is necessary.
It’s almost as if these DAs have little interest in actually prosecuting people.
Of course, the criminal justice system is far from perfect: Nobody questions that. Crime, obviously still exists, and everyone acknowledges that crimes frequently go unsolved, and criminals often go unpunished for their acts.
But that has always been the case, and likely will be for some time. The elimination, or at least solving, of all crime is a laudable goal, but is currently achievable only in the world of science fiction and fantasy writers.
While there are myriad proposals that have been offered to try to address the problem of crime, and especially violent crime, there are a few policies that have been proven to be effective. There are also a few policies that would seem to be obvious. We hate to use this term due to its ubiquitous misapplication when discussing gun control, but they are simply common sense.
For example, when you catch someone who has been accused of committing a violent crime—especially someone with a history of doing so—you should try to hold on to that person. But a no-cash bail policy will eliminate this ability. It will also ensure that some of the more violent offenders are not just released back into society, but many will likely try to disappear into that same society, never to return to court to face their charges.
But don’t just take our word for it.
There is little, if anything, to suggest that no-cash bail has helped or will help anyone, other than those who have been arrested for committing crimes—often serious, violent felonies. In fact, there are indications that the policy has led to dramatic increases in crime where implemented.
We’ve been covering the dramatic rise in violent crime in America for some time. And while it is a national trend, the trend seems to be most prevalent in some of the cities with which we are all so familiar. Cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis seem to be constantly in the news because of violent crime, and are well known for trying to blame law-abiding gun owners for this problem, rather than violent criminals.
What all these cities also have in common is a radical DA that supports, or has implemented, no-cash bail. All of these DAs were elected to their position, and all were supported by anti-gun billionaire George Soros, who has been promoting no-cash bail policies for many years. They all also seem rabidly opposed to the Second Amendment and self-defense.
Why Illinois would want to export the failure of Chicago’s no-cash bail to the rest of the state is beyond understanding. The Windy City has seen an explosion of violent crime—especially violent crime where firearms are used by the perpetrators—over the last two years. The problem has been so bad that calls to 911 are taking sometimes hours for a response, if they aren’t just deleted from the system due to the long wait.
A recent news report highlighted the absurd notion of following Chicago’s lead with anything related to criminal justice, especially when it comes to trusting criminals that have been released from custody. A Cook County (where Chicago is located) teen was recently arrested in DeKalb County, Ill., and when apprehended, he was using a home-monitoring ankle bracelet as a makeshift holster for an illegally possessed (presumably) handgun. The teen “was also wanted in connection with an August 23 shooting in DeKalb.”
But anecdotal evidence isn’t the only reason to reject the idea of no-cash bail.
We recently reported on Yolo County, Cal., where no-cash bail proved to be an abject failure. After tracking those released under the no-cash bail policy from April 2020 to May 2021, the Yolo County DA reported, “Of the 595 individuals released, 420 were rearrested (70.6%) and 123 (20% of the overall number or 29% of those rearrested) were arrested for a crime of violence.”
Those numbers are shockingly high, but also remember that they are just the numbers for released individuals who were actually caught reoffending. It is not unrealistic to presume that even more of the individuals who had been released on no-cash bail in Yolo County went on to commit additional crimes, but were not caught doing so.
As we pointed out earlier this year, a study of violent crime in Washington, DC, revealed a related problem with no-cash bail policies: Law enforcement actually has a pretty good idea who is committing the most violent crimes in their city, especially crimes where offenders use a firearm.
The study focused on mapping the real-life social networks and criminal justice histories of those involved in violence perpetrated with firearms. The report concluded, “In Washington, DC, most gun violence is tightly concentrated,” and that those involved, “share a common set of risk factors, including: involvement in street crews/groups; significant criminal justice history including prior or active community supervision; often prior victimization; and a connection to a recent shooting (within the past 12 months).”
Again, there are policies that have shown success in reducing violent crime. Focusing law enforcement resources on known offenders is one, and if such an effort were made in our nation’s capital, as the study indicates, violent crime would likely diminish there. But the city has a history of soft-on-crime policies, which continue today, and are shared by other cities, like Chicago.
Sadly, the state of Illinois has turned a blind eye to the documented experience with no-cash bail in Yolo County, is ignoring the research done in Washington, DC, and seems unconcerned with potentially exporting the carnage in Chicago to the rest of the state.
There is absolutely no justification for implementing no-cash bail, either at the city level or the state. Prosecutorial discretion already exists, so if a DA feels that bail is not necessary for a particular individual, the DA can simply ask that no bail be required. The Illinois law now forces DAs throughout the state to adopt the no-cash bail policy the Chicago DA prefers.
And although there are options for a DA to request bail for the most serious of offenses, the burden to prove it necessary is relatively high. A soft-on crime DA, like Chicago’s Kim Foxx, is unlikely to bother to try to meet that burden, and other DAs, while possibly willing to try, have no guarantees they will be successful.
Our hope is that this criminal justice “reform” experiment will not lead to tragedy in the Land of Lincoln. But based on what Chicago has experienced under a DA that is a proponent of the policy, the future looks fairly grim.