Changes in the Cook County Bail System
Bail is a judge-imposed monetary fee with which defendants in criminal defense cases are released from custody(jail) until their trial. After providing the court with the specified fee, a defendant can leave jail and return to court at the designated trial date. The money is given back to the defendant after the case is over.
A judge will determine the dollar amount of a bail. Bail is set according to a defendant’s flight risk, the charges made against him or her, the defendant’s criminal background, and the threat the defendant poses to the public. A criminal charges defense attorney can help the defendant navigate the often confusing bail process.
Sometimes, the court releases a defendant on his or her own recognizance without any bail at all, and for others, bail can be set at thousands or millions of dollars. Many defendants cannot afford to pay their bail amounts, and they must stay in jail until trial.
Bail reformists believe this is not always fair and disproportionately hurts the poor. Defendants may lose jobs, housing, property, and family if they can not afford bail. If they are later found innocent of the crime, they have lost a great deal when the trial ends. Bail reform is a growing concern around the nation, and the city of Chicago and Cook County are taking steps to correct the problems associated with unfair bail practices. The recent changes are creating positive differences in the bail system and making things better for poor defendants who need help paying their bail amounts.
Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans is replacing six judges who preside over bond hearings. New judges will come aboard. The changes in judges who preside over these cases will move the bail system forward to a more accurate and fair system. The move is just one of many different steps that the Chicago area is taking to reform the bond system that often leaves poor defendants and defendants of color in jail too long for low-level offenses.
Now, presiding judges must set bail in amounts that less fortunate individuals can afford. All defendants should be assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Individuals should not be punished or unfairly treated in the pretrial process just because they are poor. In a fair court system, everyone is treated equally regardless of their economic status or means.
These changes should make defendants and the community at large better understand the bond system and the role judges play in keeping a fair and balance system that protects the public and the rights of defendants too. The Chief has created a new pre-trial division of the court that will focus on initial bail proceedings. Now, a presiding judge will oversee and examine all bail-setting procedures that will enhance the overall bail system of the county.
The state has initiated a new law, called the Bail Reform Act. This newly created law establishes rights for people who find themselves in custody of jails in the state of Illinois. With this new statute, people involved in low-level or minor crimes do not have to post cash bond as a condition for their release. Now low-level offenders who have been charged and have no funds to get out of jail can get a rehearing of their bail amount under the Bail Reform Act.
If you want to know more about the new changes in the bail system and how they will affect your case, or if you feel you have been treated unfairly in the bail system, contact our attorney at The Jordan Law Firm right away for a free consultation.