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How Illinois Eliminated Cash Bail47:21
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In this 2016 file photo, detainees wait in a cell for an appearance in Sacramento County Superior Court in Sacramento, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli, File/AP Photo)
In this 2016 file photo, detainees wait in a cell for an appearance in Sacramento County Superior Court in Sacramento, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli, File/AP Photo)

What happens when people can't post cash bail? They're stuck in jail. For months. In some cases, years, before they ever get to trial. Recently, Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail. What kind of system should states have instead?

Guests

Christine Scott-Hayward, professor of Law, criminology and criminal justice at California State University, Long Beach. Co-author of "Punishing Poverty." (@cscotthayward)

Sharone Mitchell, director of the Illinois Justice Project. Former trial attorney with the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. (@SharoneMitchJr)

From The Reading List

New York Times: "Illinois Becomes First State to Eliminate Cash Bail" — "Illinois has become the first state to completely eliminate cash bail, a result of a push by state legislators to end a practice they say keeps poor people in jail for months awaiting trial and disproportionately affects Black and Latino defendants."

Brennan Center: "How Cash Bail Works" — "The United States is one of the only countries in the world with a cash bail system that is dominated by commercial bail bondsmen. This system discriminates against people of color and the poor, and it is in dire need of reform. Some states and cities are making progress, but much more work is needed to bring fairness to this corner of the criminal justice system."

Truth Out: "Illinois May Be First State to Eliminate Money Bail, But the Fight Isn’t Over" — "On January 13, the Illinois legislature passed the Pretrial Fairness Act (as part of HB 3653 SFA2). Once signed, this bill will make the state the first to completely eradicate the use of money bail."

Marshall Project: "The State of Bail Reform" — "While racial justice and criminal justice reform activists have long argued that cash bail criminalizes poverty, mainstream awareness has increased in recent months. For example, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, an organization that had just one full-time employee until this summer, received more than $30 million in donations after police killed George Floyd."

This program aired on March 3, 2021.

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