Historic IL Supreme Court Ruling to End Cash Bail Dismantles Economic Barriers to Justice

July 18, 2023

Today, Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail. 

“The Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling today is a victory for all Illinois citizens and we support the Court’s decision,” Tom Verdun, Director of Legal Services at the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, said.

“It means that most individuals and families in Illinois will not have their lives upended if an individual or a family member is charged with a criminal offense.”

The Moran Center for Youth Advocacy works to build a restorative community, and champions a more equitable criminal legal system. The Moran Center is proud to have served the Evanston community since 1972 and acknowledges that since our founding, the rate of pretrial detention (jailing someone before they go to trial) has multiplied more than 5x what it was forty years ago.

The Pretrial Fairness Act is one step toward correcting the disparate impact of wealth-based jailing, disproportionately impacting Black families in Illinois. Ending money bonds disrupts the system of jailing individuals before trial because of their own economic status, which has been shown to lead to inequalities in justice and affect opportunities for success after incarceration.

To quote the Illinois Record for Pretrial Justice, “[g]iving people the opportunity to stay in their communities while awaiting trial will enable them to keep their jobs, housing and custody of their children, making us all safer. In 2020, Illinois collected more than $120 million in bond money. Ending wealth-based jailing will ensure that families are no longer forced to forego paying rent or to pool funds together to free their loved ones from county jails and will keep desperately needed resources in our communities.”

The Moran Center is committed to providing Evanston youth and their families with the support to successfully emerge from challenging legal situations, tools to make positive life choices, and the ability to thrive in the community.  We are grateful for the passionate network of advocates, legal and mental health professionals, community leaders, and allies who amplify this effort to champion justice and build a more restorative community.

“Today’s ruling is a tremendous legal victory for our clients and community,” Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Executive Director of the Moran Center said. “Pre-trial liberty will not just be a privilege of the wealthy in the State of Illinois.” ∎