COMMUNITIES SUCCESSFULLY DEFEND THE PRETRIAL FAIRNESS ACT FROM ROLLBACKS
Throughout Illinois’ 2022 legislative session, the Pretrial Fairness Act came under attacks fueled by outright lies and misinformation. Conservatives repeatedly cited the law—which has yet to fully take effect—as a political punching bag to deflect from the harm they’ve caused by perpetuating mass incarceration and failing to invest in safe and thriving communities.
Time and time again, communities across Illinois came together to boldly defend the Pretrial Fairness Act from attempts to repeal it or lessen its impact. In the last few weeks alone, thousands of people filed witness slips, wrote and called their legislators, text and phone banked, and rallied others to take action! The movement’s collective efforts stopped multiple proposals that would have weakened protections for people on electronic monitoring or caged more people awaiting trial.
During the final hours of session, the House rushed to vote on a bill that would have partially weakened the rights the Pretrial Fairness Act grants people on electronic monitoring and delayed the law’s data collection requirements from taking effect until July 2023. By the time the House passed the bill, however, the Senate had already adjourned. Because the Senate will not reconvene to consider this bill until the veto session in November, the Pretrial Fairness Act remains intact.
The proposed legislation would have allowed judges to revoke essential movement permissions for people on electronic monitoring charged with forcible felonies if a prosecutor requested it. In Cook County, this policy could have affected roughly 25% of the over 2,400 people on Sheriff’s electronic monitoring. Senate Bill 2364’s attempt to weaken the Pretrial Fairness Act was a direct response to false narratives spread by law enforcement in recent weeks.
Since the electronic monitoring provisions of the Pretrial Fairness Act took effect in January of this year, thousands of people on electronic monitoring have been granted “essential movement” at least two days per week. This allows them to meet their basic needs such as buying food, attending doctor’s appointments, or washing their clothes at a laundromat. In the four months since these reforms went into effect, they have been 99% successful in Cook County, with only 1% of people having allegedly violated their conditions during movement.
From the moment the Pretrial Fairness Act passed, the movement knew that law enforcement and conservatives would fight to preserve our state’s racist system of wealth-based jailing and pretrial punishment. That system has devastated Illinois’ most marginalized communities for decades and denied thousands of people the presumption of innocence. This most recent attack is the first of many to come, but the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice knows that Illinois communities will stand together to reduce pretrial jailing and increase community safety through the successful implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act.