Black Lives Matter and so does eliminating cash bail
Written by Catrina Petersen on March 12, 2020
Photo courtesy to Black Lives Matter Facebook page
NORMAL, Ill.- The Bloomington-Normal chapter of Black Lives Matter believes that cash bail is all about access to money and not about keeping the community safe.
A new coalition of law enforcement organizations formed Mar. 2 to oppose the efforts in the General Assembly to end cash bail.
Throughout this year’s legislative session, the Coalition for Public Safety will speak on the this and other criminal justice issues.
Executive director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Jim Kaitschuk said, ” Elimination is not the way to make the criminal justice system more equitable, and it is not the way to make our communities safer.”
This session, there has been a push in the General Assembly to follow other states that have recently eliminated cash bail, this coalition is trying to go against that push.
The coalition isn’t only going against the General Assembly, but is also going against the local Black Lives Matter chapter.
“It has been disheartening to hear, especially when the local Black Lives Matter chapter has been trying, for over two years, to bring awareness to eliminating cash bail,” said Black Lives Matter leader Olivia Butts.
“Cash bail ultimately criminalizes poverty. It devastates low-income communities and it disproportional affects black people and people of color,” said Butts.
“People can’t afford to pay their bails and they are sitting in the McLean County jail, and they haven’t yet been convicted of any crime,” said Butts.
One of the chapter’s responses to eliminating cash bail was the Mother’s Day bailout of 2018, which was one of the first times that Black Lives Matter publicly called attention to this issue.
“A lot can happen if you can’t pay your bail, you can lose your job. You can lose your housing and your kids,” said Butts.
Going forward Butts wants the conversation to be focused on comments made by McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage.
“It is important to talk about the specific comments made by Sheriff Sandage.”
One comment that Sandage made was that he believed people who do not remain in custody would recommit crimes.
However, Butts believes the ‘bail-out option’ proves them to be safe.
“If bail is set that means that the judge has deemed them safe because if they had the money they would pay it,” said Butts.
The Illinois Sheriff’s Association and several law enforcement groups said that New York saw a crime spike after that state ended cash bail.
However Butts said, “This is not an issue about keeping the community safe.”
She elaborated on what a judge would do if the offender was a risk.
If elimination to cash bail legislation is passed, someone that is of higher risk to the community could be deprived of a bail-out option.
If the offender is given a bail-out option for any monetary amount, Butts believes this is already a sign that the offender is low-risk.
“But we know that if that judge sets that number its all about the access to money,” said Butts.
The question of how this offender will impact the community becomes insignificant compared to the depth of the offenders’ pockets.
“It’s just about how much money do you have? How much money does your friends and family have to get you out of jail?”