Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis Spreads Misinformation About the Pretrial Fairness Act

In an interview with WSPY News, State’s Attorney Eric Weis suggests that the elimination of cash bail creates a “release and reoffend” cycle that is causing an increase in cases. “You know, certain people can’t be held, so they go out commit crime [sic], get released, they go out and commit a crime, get released, and again, the numbers just continue to go up,” said S.A. Weis.

Fact Check: FALSE

The Briefing

While the Pretrial Fairness Act does eliminate the use of wealth-based pretrial incarceration, and mandates that many arrested individuals are given a chance to succeed on pretrial release, it does not eliminate the court’s ability to jail someone awaiting trial. 

The Pretrial Fairness Act allows pretrial detention for certain serious cases where there is either evidence that a person will be a threat to others or that they will willfully flee prosecution. Additionally, anyone who is already being supervised by the court – on pretrial release, probation, or parole – who is arrested for a new charge can also be held in custody. 

Our experience in Illinois and jurisdictions throughout the country teaches us that most people are successful during the pretrial phase, meaning they remain law-abiding and make it to their court appearances.  

Does the Pretrial Fairness Act Mean Everyone Will Be Released Before Trial?

No. The Pretrial Fairness Act centers the presumption of innocence and ensures that judges make informed and deliberate decisions about who might be incarcerated before trial and what—if any—pretrial conditions people may face when released. This was not the case before; under the old system, a person’s freedom depended on wealth. Prosecutors may file a motion to detain a person accused of any forcible felony, all sex-related charges, all domestic violence charges, and most forms of gun-related felonies if they believe they might pose a threat to another person or the community. Anyone charged with a serious crime can be jailed if they are likely to willfully flee prosecution. And anyone who is already being supervised by the court - on pretrial release, probation, or parole - who is arrested for a new charge can also be held in custody.

What is the Pretrial Fairness Act?

The Pretrial Fairness Act is the portion of the SAFE-T Act (Public Act 101-0652) that makes Illinois the first state to abolish money bond. The law includes additional provisions aimed at improving the pretrial process and increases access to the presumption of innocence.  . . The U.S. Supreme Court is unequivocal that before trial, release is the “norm” and detention is the “carefully limited exception.” The Pretrial Fairness Act makes Illinois’ pretrial system more effective, efficient, and fair. 

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