Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Friday to reduce county jail crowding by granting bail relief to non-violent offenders.
The Republican governor signed the measure at Chicago Baptist Institute. He said it is "an important step in improving our state's criminal justice system."
The law, which takes effect immediately, allows people accused of low-level crimes to have bail reviewed quickly and perhaps lowered if they're indigent. The same types of defendants also will earn credit, while incarcerated, toward paying any fines if ultimately convicted.
"Our system must work equally for all our residents, in every community, regardless of their income," Rauner said. "We should be focused on putting people in jobs not jail."
The law's legislative sponsors joined him. They were Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Donne Trotter of Chicago, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Chicago Democratic state Rep. Elgie Sims.
Inability to pay bail and secure release while awaiting trial is one reason Illinois jails are overcrowded.
"Pretrial release must not focus on the defendants' ability to pay," Trotter said. "This new law allows the courts to look at the threat to the public safety or their risk of failure to appear."
Durkin praised the law's extension of the RICO statute until 2022. The state's Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law aids prosecution of organized crime.
The law adds job titles for employees considered public officials for the purpose of prosecuting threats of harm. They now include social workers, case workers, lawyers and investigators who work for the Departments of Healthcare and Family Services, Human Services, Children and Family Services and the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission.
The bill was SB2034.