CCBF is thrilled to announce that the Pretrial Fairness Act, our landmark legislation developed with our partners at the Coalition to End Money Bond and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, has just been passed by the Illinois legislature! Communities across Illinois have been rigorously organizing to end the racist and classist use of money bond since 2016. Over the last 5 years, we have organized, advocated, protested and litigated to challenge the use of money bond in Cook County and across the state. Advocates, community members, lawyers, faith leaders, researchers, and—most importantly—directly impacted people have all played a critical role in this fight.

Yesterday, our years of labor and dedication to fighting against pretrial incarceration culminated in victory more quickly than we could ever have predicted! The Pretrial Fairness Act passed with the leadership of Senator Robert Peters (a former member of the Coalition as staff at The People’s Lobby), Representative Justin Slaughter, and Senator Elgie Sims, as part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ criminal justice reform bill (HB 3653 SFA2) during an abbreviated 5 day legislative session called “Lame Duck.” In less than a week, we worked together with you, our supporters, to mobilize thousands of calls, letters, witness slips, and social media posts—including trending on twitter yesterday!—that pushed legislators in Springfield to pass our bill that will overhaul the state’s pretrial legal system and end the use of money bond entirely. The bill also makes many people ineligible for pretrial incarceration altogether. Governor JB Pritzker is expected to sign the bill into law, making Illinois the first state to do away with bail altogether.

For decades, wealth-based pretrial incarceration has destabilized communities across Illinois by causing people to lose their jobs, housing, and even custody of their children. Pretrial incarceration affects almost 250,000 people who are locked up in Illinois jails each year, 90% of whom are there pretrial, and a majority because they cannot afford to pay a money bond. The Pretrial Fairness Act’s passage will ensure that no one is caged in the state of Illinois simply because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.

This victory is only possible because of our robust and diverse movement for justice. While law enforcement opposition to our advocacy has been strong, our movement to end money bail has proven stronger! People from across Illinois came together and told our legislators that we would no longer allow people to be jailed due to the size of their bank accounts. Because of your rallying, marching, contacting legislators, awareness building, and so much more, Springfield HAD to hear us, and now Illinois is going to end money bond and dramatically decrease the number of people jailed awaiting trial. Your dedicated support over the years has made this dream a reality. Thank you.

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