Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, September 16, 2019

Illinois joins campaign seeking to reform court bail systems for lower-level cases

By Dawn Geske | Nov 10, 2016

As the second state to join a national campaign seeking reform to courts' bail systems, Illinois will begin to examine its pretrial justice system and the handling of low- and moderate-risk individuals who have allegedly committed crimes versus high-risk individuals facing charges.

The program is "3DaysCount."

“What we’re hoping to address is two main problems with the way we administer pretrial justice in the country,” Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO at the Pretrial Justice Institute, told the Record. “One is low- and moderate-risk people that the court said can be released but are oftentimes not released because they can’t afford to post a money bond. On the other end of the spectrum, you have people that really represent an unmanageable risk to public safety, and they take advantage of the same money bond system.”

High-risk individuals often pose a threat to society with a propensity to re-offend, a situation that 3DaysCount is working to help Illinois eliminate. At the same time, through the 3DaysCount campaign, the state will look to limit pretrial detention for low- and moderate-risk individuals. The campaign also aims to stop high-risk persons from being released from detention simply because they can pay a money bond.

“It benefits the community dramatically because what we know from research is that low-risk/moderate-risk people who stay locked up pending trial, they come out higher risk, and so the current system is making all the rest of us less safe,” said Fanno Burdeen.

For these low- and moderate-risk individuals who are unable to post bond for their release, being held in pretrial detention can have a destabilizing effect on them, as their jobs can be affected as well as their homes and family lives.

“We know from a high level of correlation that people that spend anything over three days – that’s why we named it the 3DaysCount – and you’re going to get a higher-risk person when they are finally released,” Fanno Burdeen said.

Illinois will get the visibility and recognition of joining a national campaign for bail reform while gaining the expertise of the Pretrial Justice Institute, which presents on the topic at a variety of conferences and is active in the media. Illinois is now a client of the Pretrial Justice Institute and will receive assistance free of charge to help reform its pretrial justice system.

“The ultimate thing I hope they get out of joining the 3DaysCount campaign is that they see a dramatic drop in 2020 of their unnecessary pretrial detention across the state,” Fanno Burdeen said.

The 3DaysCount campaign is designed to help the first 20 states that join the campaign with a vision to “reduce unnecessary arrests,” “restrict pretrial detentions” and “replace discriminatory money bails with practical, risk-based decisions” by 2020.

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State of Illinois