Is “Woke” Bail Reform Putting Criminals Back on the Streets?

According to a recent opinion piece by the Daily Mail, “woke” bail reform is putting murderers back on the streets of Chicago. This is not strictly true. In 2020, when the jails and prisons were overcrowded with suspects awaiting charges, it became more routine to release individuals on ankle monitors. However, it is true that reforms in the way we do bail are impacting how it functions and who qualifies.

To be sure, Illinois is not woke when it comes to bail reform. Some states have moved to do away with the cash bail system, and we will get into their reasons why below. However, Illinois is not one of them so the idea that Chicago is putting murderers out on the streets at a greater rate than say, New York or Los Angeles is false. One of the reasons why Chicago takes it on the chin when it comes to these sorts of accusations is that we have a large Black population, a history of political corruption, and a reputation for organized crime. However, we are no more woke than, say, Birmingham, AL when it comes to our bail system. 

COVID releases, overcrowding, and ankle monitors

According to statistics cited in the article, which is linked at the bottom of the article, somewhere around 3% of those released on ankle monitors (as opposed to held in jail cells) re-offend. Because they are on ankle monitors, their offense can be as minimal as walking off their property while they are supposed to be at home. That would qualify as a “re-offense.” The article, of course, makes no mention of how many individuals go on to murder others while out on woke bail. The rate of reoffense is around 3% for those out on woke bail. 

What is non-woke bail and why is it bad?

Non-woke bail is the system we are operating under in Chicago right now. It involves cash. You pay a sum of money to the government and then they release you under specific terms. You can recover the money once your case is over with. 

Why is this a problem? Well, let’s say I am poor. I could end up in county jail awaiting charges for as long as a year. If I plead innocent to the charges, it will take even longer for the courts to adjudicate my case. This means that it is easy to leverage poor people into pleading guilty to offenses they never committed based only on the fact that the state is holding them against their will. “Woke” people thus are pointing out the obvious. As of right now, only California and New York have bail systems that can be considered “woke.” However, Illinois is moving to awaken the bail system with reforms of their own, as are other states.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg represents those who have been charged with serious crimes in the Chicago area. Call our office today at (312) 560-7100 or contact us online to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 

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