United States

Pretrial service expansion awaits Pritzker’s signature

(The Center Square) – The state of Illinois may be getting into pretrial services as a result of changes prompted by the Safety, Accountability, Fairness, Equity-Today Act.

House Bill 4621 was sent to the governor’s desk for signature and would create the Office of Statewide Pretrial Services, allowing it to provide pretrial services to circuit courts and counties that don’t currently have pretrial services agencies. There has been an explosion of pretrial hearings since cash bail was eliminated with the Pretrial Fairness Act, a component of the SAFE-T Act.

“We must ensure that every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, is afforded the same rights and opportunities during the pretrial phase,” said state Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago.

State Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, said the bill is in response to the Illinois Pretrial Services Act.

“Which became effective July 1, 1987, and requires every circuit to have a pretrial services agency,” said Slaughter.

Slaughter acknowledged during debate of the bill that the issue of pretrial services has come into more focus with increased numbers of people being released through the Pretrial Fairness Act approved in 2021 as part of the SAFE-T Act. Cash bail didn’t end statewide until court cases were settled by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2023.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, said the system has worked fine at the local level.

“Some of the problems I have with the bill are philosophical,” said Windhorst. “I think these offices are better handled either in the counties or at the circuit level.”

The measure would provide pretrial services at no additional cost to the counties, but state taxpayers would see an increase cost of $2.7 million initially.

The measure awaits the governor’s signature.

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