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*** UPDATED x7 *** Backgrounder on Pretrial Fairness Act changes

Thursday, Dec 1, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Senate Democrats’ backgrounder…

Pretrial Fairness Act – 5 key points

Transition to new system

Q: What happens to those currently detained on Jan. 1?

A: Those currently detained can request to have the new system applied to their situation. To make this manageable for courts, there will be a tiered system for granting hearings on these requests. These hearings are to determine whether they should be released.

    • Lowest level offenses (example: petty shoplifting) hearings must be within 7 days of request.
    • Those detained but considered flight risks would get hearings within 60 days.
    • Those considered to be potential threats to safety get hearings within 90 days.

This system is designed to give the court extended time to examine requests involving more serious cases.

Q: Can police detain or arrest someone from trespassing?

A: Yes. The Pretrial Fairness Act always allowed this. This amendment clarifies that a police officer can arrest someone for trespassing if …

    • The person poses a threat to the community or any person;
    • *Arrest is necessary because criminal activity persists after issuance of the citation; or
    • The accused has an obvious medical or mental health issue that poses a risk to their safety.

If the above conditions are not present, a citation would be issued.
*Note: This provision was added to clarify the intent of the initial Pretrial Fairness Act.

Dangerousness standard

Makes consistent throughout the entire act what a prosecutor must show to detain an individual on grounds the individual is a threat. This “dangerousness standard” is: the person poses a real and present threat to any person or persons or the community, based on the specific, explainable facts of the case.

Detention net

Adds non-probationable felonies, forcible felonies, hate crimes, attempts of crimes that are otherwise detainable, and others to the list of crimes that qualify someone for detention. The underlying goal for all of this is that dangerous people should be detained while those who merely lack resources and do not pose a threat should not.

Judicial arrest warrants

Clarifies that judges can issue arrest warrants or summons when someone misses their court date. They currently lack this flexibility.

A summons is an official notice to appear in court.

An arrest warrant tells police to arrest and detain.

Also clarifies what constitutes “willful flight” to stress that the intent is to detain those who are actively evading prosecution, not someone who failed to appear in court because, for example, they missed their bus.


*** UPDATE 1 *** List of groups registered as neutral on the bill

    Religious Action Center of Illinois, Labor Council, Troopers Lodge 41, Illinois Alliance for Reentry & Justice, ACLU of Illinois, Live Free Illinois, Chicago FOP Lodge 7, IL Fraternal Order of Police, Illinois Council of Chief Defenders, Illinois State Bar Association, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, Illinois Justice Project, Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, Illinois Assn of Chiefs of Police, SAFER Foundation, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender

FOP and the ACLU. Not bad.

No groups have registered in opposition as of this writing. The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation has registered as a proponent.

…Adding… Good point…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Senate President Harmon just said there was a “technology issue” that kept members from voting. Could be a redo…

*** UPDATE 3 *** Harmon moved to reconsider the vote. Motion passed. They’re checking the equipment now.

*** UPDATE 4 *** New roll call…

*** UPDATE 5 *** Press release…

Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement today after the Senate passed legislation clarifying certain portions of the Pretrial Fairness Act:

“Our goal when we passed the Pretrial Fairness Act nearly two years ago was to overhaul a broken criminal justice system, one in which dangerous people could buy their way out of jail while people accused of non-violent crimes remain detained as they await their day in court simply because they lack resources.

“The measure we passed today preserves that goal while providing clarifications to eliminate any misunderstandings and ensure the implementation of this groundbreaking reform is smooth.”

*HB1095 is now pending before the Illinois House.

*** UPDATE 6 *** Since this topic was repeatedly mentioned during the debate…

*** UPDATE 7 *** Just barely passed. Democratic Reps. Tarver and Yingling did not vote…

…Adding… Very close…


  1. - H-W - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 10:43 am:

    Having just re-read the bill at Rich’s recommendation. I can attest to those changes as accurate. smile.

    I also like the current language that even when Class A Misdemeanors are charged, for which pre-trail release may be denied, the language is very clear that in these cases also, the prosecution must demonstrate that the accused represents an clear and actual threat if released.

    Class A misdemeanors are for me, a hit or miss. For example, it appears possession of more than 30 grams of weed counts as a potential class A misdemeanor (unless that has changed). In addition, it is conceivable that LEO could simply find a Class A misdemeanor charge that fits in some cases.

    But the provision that a real and present treat must be proven to exist seems a justifiable compromise in such cases (Class A misdemeanor offenses).

    Thanks again Rich, for reminding me to do my homework first.

  2. - Huh? - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 11:04 am:

    So after all of our handwringing over the past few years the judges will now have more unreviewable discretion to detain defendants for more offenses than they could before this all started? The activists got a bunch of meaningless goobledegook language to take credit for, and… as usual… the brunt of everything falls on the guys with their names “under the v”. Sounds about right to me. Par for the course. Carry on.

  3. - Amalia - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 11:10 am:

    So what exactly are some House Ds…apparently… objecting to? that it is clear that judges have discretion when facts are presented? this piece is great for the clarity that should have existed for a while now. the changes too.

  4. - H-W - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 11:32 am:


    If you read the amended version being considered, specifically Sec. 110-6.1 (starting on p. 219), you will see that the offenses for which pre-trial detainment may be required are pretty much serious offenses. And in that section, it is also being amended to require that the prosecutor provide clear evidence that the person is a threat if released.

    While I had similar concerns, I am satisfied with the new language. I do not think it will lead to more discretion, but in fact less as originally intended.

  5. - Jerry - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 12:38 pm:

    The other option is to raise taxes to build more jails.

  6. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 12:47 pm:

    The “trespassing” kerfluffle reminded me of …

  7. - Kayak - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 12:48 pm:

    I hoped eliminating Qualified Immunity would have resurfaced by now

  8. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 12:52 pm:

    The whole thing sounds reasonable. The crux of the issue, though, is deciding who exactly is considered a dangerous person under the Act? How specifically can it be determined? The standard given is very general and could lead to either over permissiveness or over strictness, depending on the leanings of the judge. Also lots of room for time consuming appeals.

  9. - DuPage Dad - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 1:29 pm:


    Let’s talk again in the spring. If ever there was a time to do that, it would be then.

  10. - Mznmzm - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 2:18 pm:

    @captain obvious isn’t a “dangerous person” determined by prior convictions?

  11. - Proud Sucker - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 2:19 pm:

    I was hoping DeWitte stayed at NV.

  12. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 2:20 pm:

    The opposition whining was almost too much to listen to during floor debate. Bills get improved with subsequent bills. That’s how it should be.

  13. - Hannibal Lecter - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 2:40 pm:

    === I hoped eliminating Qualified Immunity would have resurfaced by now ===

    If you truly want to get law enforcement on board with the proposed revisions, that is not the way to do it.

  14. - Huh? - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 3:31 pm:

    I wish the doppelganger at 11:04 would get a different handle. I’ve had this handle since the blago days.

    I know I didn’t make that comment, I was on a work conference call at that time.

  15. - Vote Quimby - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 4:11 pm:

    Did Hastings recuse himself from voting? /s

  16. - low level - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 6:21 pm:

    Its been a while since I watched the House. McCombie had her facts wrong, Mazzochi was her usual toned down self (ahem) and Durkin lost his cool and was disrespectful, cutting off the sponsor several times. No wonder you people are a super duper minority. Yikes.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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