Protesters with the Coalition to End Money Bond rally at the Illinois Capitol. | Photo: Coalition to End Money Bond

A portion of the Pretrial Fairness Act went into effect in Illinois at the beginning of this month, allowing defendants on electronic home monitoring to leave their homes twice a week.

The act was passed in January 2021 by the Illinois legislature as part of the criminal justice reform bill, HB 3653.

The Pretrial Fairness Act was written by advocates and organizers in the Coalition to End Money Bond and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice.

It was sponsored in Springfield by senators Elgie Sims, Robert Peters and Justin Slaughter.

One part of the act that went into effect on January 1 guarantees periods of movement for people incarcerated in their homes on electronic monitoring.

People charged with a crime that are on electronic monitoring will now be guaranteed movement to perform essential tasks two days per week.

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A second portion of the act that also took effect on January 1 changes the escape charge policy.

Defendants on electronic monitoring will need to be in violation for at least 48 hours before being charged with felony escape.

A third portion of the act that took effect on January 1 makes it mandatory to review electronic monitoring orders every 60 days to determine if the defendant should continue being on electronic monitoring.

The biggest part of the Pretrial Fairness Act abolishes cash bond in Illinois. That portion of the law will not go into effect until January 2023.

“These reforms should merely be the first steps we take to transform criminal justice in Illinois,” Illinois State Senator Elgie Sims said last February after Governor JB Pritzker signed the legislation into law.

“We must reimagine accountability. We must reimagine transparency. We must reimagine incarceration. These reforms are a beginning. This historic moment is the result of a monumental effort on the part of countless people, from those who testified during the 30 hours of public hearings on these issues, to those who have pushed for some of these reforms for years, and especially to the Illinoisans who signaled their support,” Sims said.