Illinois Purge Law: How Practical is it for 2024?

Illinois Purge Law: How Practical is it for 2024?

Do you know what the most controversial Illinois Purge Law in 2024 is? It is the Pre-Trial Fairness Act which eliminates cash bail and pre-trial detention for nonviolent offences. This law is a part of the SAFE-T Act. It is commonly referred to as the “Purge Law” after the horror film “The Purge.”

Let’s take a more detailed look at the complications surrounding this law.

What is the Illinois Purge Law?

The Pretrial Fairness Act, which got into effect on January 1, 2023, is part of a long-running movement to resolve cash bail and pre-trial detention concerns. But the prosecutors has opposed in court throughout the state.  

Last December, a Kankakee County court found that the provision was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court noted in its 5-2 opinion on July 18 that the Pretrial Fairness Act is constitutional. So, on September 18, it went into effect after 60 days

Illinois is the first state in the US to outlaw cash bail. Given the potential consequences of enacting such a law, it has been termed the “purge law,” after the 2013 film in which any crime is permitted for one day, resulting in utter anarchy.

Why is Illinois Passing the Purge Law?

The Illinois government approved the SAFE-T Act in 2021 to fight racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Today, SAFE-T stands for safety, accountability, fairness, and equity. The Pre-trial Fairness Act (PFA) is the most controversial part of it.

The objective is to shift away from a money-based pre-trial detention system and toward one that emphasizes the defendant’s escape risk or danger of reoffending. Otherwise, poor people have to remain in jail because they cannot afford bail, even for minor accusations, but wealthy people may afford pre-trial release even for more serious offenses.

Illinois Purge Law Explained in Detail:

The goal of the law is to guarantee that access to money does not decide whether someone’s imprisonment while awaiting trial. The court should not limit justice to those who can afford it.

Contrary to opponents’ bogus claims, the new pretrial system will not simply free every criminal. The court has the jurisdiction to decide if someone is a danger to others. Then the defendant can and will be detained until trial. Similarly, if someone is a true flight risk, they will be detained.  

The Illinois Supreme Court also issued an order to assist the court in implementing the SAFE-T Act’s pretrial release requirements. The SAFE-T Act obliges Illinois circuit courts to hold in-person hearings to decide if someone should be freed with or without restrictions within 24 hours.

There will be ‘Watchers’ as part of the court observation procedure. They will gather data on those who appear in court, make notes of the judge’s answer, and concentrate on the terms of release, and identify the gaps where tasks are poorly executed. Finally, the watchers sent to the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice.

Want to know more? Start with this recent Chicago Tribune article regarding ‘Illinois’ bail reform‘, published October 23, 2023.