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The Facts on Pretrial Reform in Illinois

A new fact sheet released by AV provides details on the goals, structure, and history of Illinois’ Pretrial Fairness Act, which aims to create a more equitable and safer pretrial system.

After years of discussion and planning, comprehensive pretrial reform has now been implemented in Illinois. Starting on Sept. 18, courts will replace wealth-based detention with risk-based detention, eliminate money bail, and mandate new, rigorous legal standards to protect community safety.

Prior to implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA), which was part of a wider package of criminal justice reforms passed by the state in 2021 (known as the SAFE‑T Act) Illinois often detained people before trial simply because they couldn’t afford their money bond. At the same time, the state released individuals who posed clear threats to community safety simply because they had access to wealth. Furthermore, pretrial release conditions were often inconsistent, and judges had few tools to handle pretrial violations. 

Concluding a process that began in 2017, Illinois’ pretrial system will now focus on improving community safety, upholding accountability, protecting individual liberty, and laying a foundation for better pretrial services. It does so by:

  • Imposing safety-based standards for detention
  • Offering judges multiple options to respond to pretrial misconduct
  • Eliminating wealth-based pretrial detention
  • Ensuring due process
  • Authorizing release by law enforcement
  • Building momentum for comprehensive statewide pretrial services

As Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker put it in reference to the wider SAFE‑T Act, the PFA is a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation, and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice.”

Read the full fact sheet here.