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After Ending Cash Bail, Illinois Reformers Push Programs To Support People On Pretrial Release

In Illinois, a program called Community Release with Support is designed to address the underlying needs of people on pretrial release by linking them with services for housing, addiction treatment, job training and transportation. Advocates for criminal justice reform are now asking Illinois lawmakers to expand access to these types of community-based programs across the state, Bolts Magazine reports. Many of the same advocates who successfully pushed for the state to abolish cash bail last year are now hoping to build on that reform with The Pretrial Success Act, a bill filed this legislative session that would direct $15 million to community organizations around the state to provide voluntary services to people awaiting trial. The legislation would offer grants of up to $500,000 for these organizations to develop and scale up programs that offer everything from clinical behavioral and health services to transportation, child care, and case management for people on pretrial release in accordance with their needs, in order to improve their odds of success.

“The idea is to get to the root causes,” said Rebecca Levin, Vice President of Policy at Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), an organization that provides community-based treatment and recovery support for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. The bill, introduced in February by State Senator Elgie Sims and State Representative Maurice West, has been widely supported by social service agencies across the state. Supporters say that it builds on prior Illinois grant programs aimed at improving public safety using community investment—such as the 2021 Reimagine Public Safety Act that established a public health approach to gun violence prevention and the Restore, Reinvest, Renew program launched in 2019 that directs a portion of cannabis tax revenue into disinvested communities. This year’s Pretrial Success Act would be the first to specifically target services for pretrial defendants released from jail. The bill is currently being debated in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the House Public Safety Committee. 


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