CHICAGO, Sept. 18, 2023 - Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr., joined advocates, legislators, criminal legal system stakeholders and impacted people at a news conference on Monday morning marking the end of money bond in Illinois and the beginning of a more just pretrial system.
While celebrating a historic moment for a more equitable criminal legal system, Mitchell also pledged vigilance in making sure the Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) is properly implemented.
The PFA, passed and signed into law in early 2021, was fully implemented on Monday, making Illinois the first state in the nation to completely eliminate the harmful practice of forcing poor people accused of a crime to remain in jail because they could not afford to pay money bond.
“This is a momentous day for the clients and the communities we serve. The Cook County Public Defender’s Office welcomes the end of money bond—and the start of a more fair and just pretrial process—throughout our county and state. We are very proud of our years of preparation, and we stand ready to implement the new law,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell thanked organizers who have fought for this day for more than seven years, including the Coalition to End Money Bond and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice; and leaders including Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, Representative Justin Slaughter, Senator Elgie Sims, Senator Robert Peters, Governor J.B. Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
Mitchell said that together with its partners in the organizing community and in government and the court system, the Public Defender's Office will remain vigilant to make sure that the promises of the new law are fulfilled.
"With one chapter closing, a second one begins," Mitchell said. "Though the eradication of money bond and the confusing and conflicting processes that allowed for rampant unjustified incarceration will now end, the calls for backsliding will begin. The second chapter will include ensuring PFA is more than words on paper on a page, that they are actualized."
"Let us never forget that money bond was a broken strategy and that senseless wealth-based incarceration never solved the problem of violence, no matter how much time it had to do the job. Today is a good day, but the fight for a just system, goes on," he said.
Contact: Fiona Ortiz, Deputy of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org