Cook County Public Defender's Office applauds Illinois Supreme Court ruling upholding the Pretrial Fairness Act


Fiona Ortiz, Deputy of Communications

Cook County Public Defender’s Office applauds Illinois Supreme Court ruling upholding the Pretrial Fairness Act 

CHICAGO, IL, July 18, 2023 – The Cook County Public Defender’s Office said on Tuesday it is pleased that the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Pretrial Fairness Act. The ruling is the strongest possible decision upholding the constitutional arguments for ending money bond.

Illinois can now end a great injustice that distorted the criminal legal system and move forward with removing the price tag from the presumption of innocence. 

Using money as the determining factor in whether someone goes to jail or goes home was a broken policy that often produced terrible results. By ending money bond, Illinois is now in position to make these serious decisions without stripping millions of dollars from the communities who can least afford it,said Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr. 

Every day, the hundreds of attorneys at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, which serves Chicago and suburbs, see the deplorable impact of money bond and pretrial jailing. They see mainly Black and Brown people punished for being poor and the mothers, grandmothers, wives, girlfriends and sisters of accused people burdened with paying cash bail for their loved ones. 

Ending money bond is a matter of racial justice. 

Cook County court system stakeholders, including public defenders, are poised to implement the pretrial reforms under the Pretrial Fairness Act, after years of preparation. 

The law that will now take effect goes well beyond merely ending money bond and transforms the entire decision-making process around what happens to a person after arrest and before trial. The law does not end pretrial incarceration; prosecutors can still request detention in many circumstances. But decisions about detention will be made after a robust, individualized hearing, where both sides can present evidence and arguments regarding whether the accused person is a threat to community safety or a flight risk. 

The road to these historic reforms took more than seven years and involved thousands of Illinoisans. After the Pretrial Fairness Act was passed, a coalition of advocacy and community groups, criminal legal system players, lawmakers and others fought bad-faith fearmongering and misinformation. 

These efforts were worth it. In deciding that we can make these consequential pretrial release and detention decisions without money bond, Illinois has provided a new model for the national movement to end money bail. We are showing that it is possible to bring significant change a system that harms communities and generates false confessions and wrongful convictions for too many decades. 

On this historic day, the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender congratulates our legislative partners who championed pretrial fairness, the Attorney General’s Office that successfully defended the law, and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, who made this all possibleRead the Network’s statement here.


About us: The Cook County Public Defender's mission is to protect the fundamental rights, liberties and dignity of each person whose case has been entrusted to us by providing the finest legal representation 

 The Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender is one of the largest criminal defense firms in the United States, with more than 450 attorneys and more than 650 employees overall. Each year the office represents tens of thousands of Cook County residents charged with every type of criminal offense and child protection violation.