State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, doesn’t see any winners emerging from a campaign to change the state’s criminal justice system to the point of outlawing cash bails.
“It would be a disaster, just as it has proven to be in places where it’s already been tried like New York City,” Caulkins told the McLean County Times. “It’s not that I’m not sympathetic to situations where people are held on bail where they can’t come up with small amounts of money, but to completely scrap the system is too much. Here in Illinois, we’re already letting people out and not prosecuting them as we should.”
According to The Center Square, Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton recently told a Special Committee on Public Safety that the plan has the complete backing of Gov. J.B. Pritzker based on the uneven toll the system has taken on those who are unable to make cash bail. A 2018 study detailed that each year more than 11 million individuals, most of them poor, are jailed prior to conviction, ultimately running the risk of losing employment and rental housing while awaiting trial and facing even greater pressure to accept unfavorable plea deals.
Nonetheless, law enforcement groups across the state stand with Caulkins in opposing the measure, with the veteran lawmaker stressing that nothing about the proposal even remotely addresses any of the state’s most-pressing issues.
“This is just all part of progressive agenda we’re seeing in Springfield where we’ve also got people saying you can’t pump your own gas or own a gas-powered leaf blower," he said. "We’re never going to have a healthy environment because none of these bills are doing anything on pensions, the unbalanced budget or helping the city of Chicago stop the violence. Our priorities are all wrong.”
With Springfield being Springfield, Caulkins laments not much about that stands to change anytime soon.
“Because of the imbalance of power, because there are no checks and balance, every outrageous liberal idea gets filed,” he said. “We have legislators in Springfield that are proposing anything and everything and that does nothing to help us deal with the things we really need to be looking at.”