Report Measures Impact of Eliminating Cash Bail In Illinois
A new report from the Chicago Civic Federation shows most county circuit court clerks in Illinois will lose about 11% of their general fund fee revenue when cash bail is eliminated in 2023. Bond payments can go to a variety of things, including court-ordered fees, fines, restitution, and bond processing fees.
It's this last category that helps fund circuit clerk operations.
According to a five-year analysis from the Chicago Civic Federation for a Pretrial Practices Implementation Task Force commissioned by the Illinois Supreme Court, the statewide total in bond processing fees ranged from about $4.9 million in 2020 to $14.9 million in 2016. Data was provided by 95 Illinois counties
The Civic Federation is an independent, non-partisan government research organization.
The findings focused on bond money processed and disbursed at the conclusion of a criminal case, and how clerks of circuit courts distribute those bond amounts — not money collected at pre-trial release. There was a total of $121.9 million in applied bond payments statewide last year. That figure is lower than usual because the pandemic allowed fewer cases to go through the system. In 2016, the total was $153.2 million.
Supporters of the elimination of cash bail said it penalizes poorer defendants disproportionately. The Civic Federation found that in the last five years, only 20% percent of total bond payments were refunded. On average over this period, 58% of bond payments were distributed to county-specific fees, while the remaining 42% of bonds applied to fees were directed to other state or municipal fees.
Illinois is the first state to completely remove the use of money in pretrial release procedures.
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