Perspective: Fear Vs. Fact

Mar 3, 2021

On February 22, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Illinois House Bill 3653, a historic, and some would say controversial, piece of legislation that takes aim at police and criminal justice reform. This bill was written, and supported, by the Legislative Black Caucus, after the death of George Floyd. The bill has its flaws, but I believe it is a good start towards addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities in the judicial system. One of the most notable features of the bill is the elimination of cash bail by 2023.

Not everyone is a fan of the elimination of cash bail, however. On the DeKalb Daily Chronicle’s public Facebook page, one woman told another woman that with no cash bail, if her daughter was raped, the alleged rapist would be home before her daughter was released from the hospital. I read the comment and experienced a range of emotions. More importantly, I was angry that the comment perpetuated the commonly used ideology of fearmongering to frame a false narrative.

There was a time when people who had opposing views, would engage in civil, but critical discourse. Individuals would read, research, and review; then state their position citing their evidence. It seems now that fear is often used to solidify one’s opinion. This strategy has also been used when talking about immigration, race, gender, religion, presidential elections, economic systems, and now judicial reform.

The more I see this tactic used, the more I realize how manipulative it is. A quick search of the new bill clearly states cashless bail would be an option for non-violent offenses, and at the discretion of the judge, based on the person’s threat to society.

Fear is strong, but facts are stronger.

I'm Joe Mitchell and that's my Perspective.