Monday, September 18, 2023

The Revenge of the Thin Blue Line 40: The End of Cash Bail in Illinois

How Faux News depicts Chicago
Many provisions of The Illinois Safe-T Act has already been in effect for two years, but today marks the End of Cash Bail.

The D-Bond (and I-Bond / C-Bond) system is over, although Warrants which predate 09/18/23 will still be subject to the Bond amount issued for them.

The end of cash bail was marked with a huge degree of caterwauling and lies by those who benefit from the current system and never, ever, have to worry about not being able to make bail for a minor offense and being stuck in Cook County lock-up for months facing misdemeanor charges.

What the cash bail system always did, and was designed to do, was help restrain the poor and working class.  Rich people who commit a homicide and get a $1,000,000 bail to bond out?  No problem.  Poor folk who can't make $5000 or even scrape together $500 well tough, you're being bussed to 26th and California. 

In reality, the new system still affords Judges, ASA's (Assistant State's Attorneys), and even the arresting officer the ability to detain a person based on a large variety of factors which are not difficult to obtain.  It still holds those arrested for Domestic Violence related crimes and higher level felonies in custody before being transported to Court for an initial hearing.   

All the rightwing fear mongering that the arrested person will go out and commit more crime is nothing less than a call for everyone arrested to be NEVER released from prison.  Which understand doesn't apply to Rightwing Domestic Terrorists from January 6th or from the 4 arrests of Donald John Traitor Trump, but really only to black and brown persons (and white people who have abrogated their innocence by advocating for the poor, the huddled masses, the downtrodden) who in the parlance of the Cook County court system are "mooks" or "mopes"

As Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve noted in her book, Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court (2017),

In the vernacular of court culture, defendants are identified by vulgarities: "scum," "piece of shit," "bad guys" - even "banana suits" (which refers to the jail jumper that defendants in custody must wear in court).  One term predominates among these epithets.  That term is "mopes," used mostly to refer to defendants but sometimes used to describe professionals as well.  The meaning inscribed in this term is central to the moral rubric applied to defendants by courtroom professionals.

"Mope" is shorthand for a person who violates these values.  Professionals find it difficult to regard a defendant as anything but a mope.   

What this is about is white society, especially rightwing society, believes a certain segment of America are a priori guilty and have, most likely, gotten away with some crime, so jailing them and holding them until they pay a monetary fee is just and right.   

Most of America doesn't want to believe the legal system writ large is unjust and unfair, so for years they told themselves the Cops are the good guys, the courts are fair, and Justice is blind in America.  The War on Drugs really shattered this belief system, but couldn't break it because Republicans continued to tell Americans drug abusers have a moral failing and anyone accused of a crime is ipso facto guilty.  And since the system was Fair & Balanced before now, that means Trump and the Republicans are absolutely right that Trump being charged with 91 Felonies is Weaponized Department of Justice and now we have a Two-Tiered Legal System, which just so happens to be exactly like Reverse-Racism and targeting totally innocent conservatives! 

The new No Bail system in Illinois is going to be a work in progress for a while and is going to be tweaked going forward.  But, if bad actors in the Prosecutor's Office, Sheriffs, and Municipal Police Departments are going to sabotage the effort it won't be because of the Law but, because of their own biased ideas of Justice in America.

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