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Courts adjusting to state’s new bail reform law

QUINCY — Courts across Illinois have had about a month to adjust to the requirements of the new bail reform law that took effect Jan. 1.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Bail Reform Act in the summer that requires courts to consider a detainee’s circumstances when setting conditions of release or imposing monetary bail, The Quincy Herald-Whig reported.

The law requires a lawyer to be present at the initial court appearance for anyone arrested. The law aims to release defendants without requiring they post cash bail if they don’t pose a reasonable threat to the community and are unlikely to flee.

“There’s a presumption for recognizance bonds,” Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha said. “There can be conditions available.”

Some conditions for detainees to be released could include electronic home monitoring, curfews, drug counseling, stay-away orders and in-person reporting.

The new law could allow more people facing nonviolent misdemeanor or low-level felonies, such as theft and drug possession to be released on recognizance bonds.

However, the law doesn’t apply to those facing charges for violent crimes, sex crimes and domestic batteries.

Judge Amy Lannerd oversees bond court in Adams County.

“It challenges us to pause and review quite a bit of information,” Lannerd said.

Adams County Probation Department provides a risk assessment score, which factors in whether a defendant is likely to appear in court as directed or be arrested while out on bond. The judge uses the assessment to assist in setting bond and additional conditions.

Champaign County Presiding Judge Tom Difanis said judges in his county usually set reasonable bonds at the beginning so defendants without means can be released soon after they’re arrested, The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported. Difanis said the new law, “fixes problems we don’t have.”

–Associated Press

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