Prosecutors have problems with new bail reform law - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Prosecutors have problems with new bail reform law

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MARION -- Prosecutors worry a law that took effect at the beginning of the month could let criminals out too early and pose a threat to the public.

The Bail Reform Act credits people in jail $30 a day towards their bond if they were arrested for certain crimes.

When Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill in June he touted it as a way to ease jail overcrowding, but that's something Williamson County State's Attorney Brandon Zanotti said isn't an issue here.

"These are issues a lot of counties in Illinois don't have," Zanotti said. "It's a Cook County law to address Cook County problems. That's all it is."

Zanotti worries the law puts criminals back onto the streets too early.

He points to the case Monday when Treston Miller barged into a Marion City Council meeting just weeks after he was arrested for reckless conduct.

"We're going to be seeing a lot of that and that's one of the things I want to warn the public of," Zanotti said.

The bill creates two tiers of offenses and Zanotti believes those categories weren't well thought out.

"I don't know how some of them were decided," Zanotti said. "For example, telephone harassment was listed as a Category A offense, however unlawful use of a weapon by a felon is a Category B (offense)."

Zanotti has a long list of other concerns, including a loss of funds from bail money that helps pay court costs and the law's requirement for more bond hearings.

"It's going to slow down our already slow-moving justice system," Zanotti said.

He's also concerned about crime victims.

"I don't think this new bill really addresses victims, crime victims rights," Zanotti said. "I think they were really left out of this."

Zanotti isn't the only local prosecutor against the bill.  

Jefferson County State's Attorney Sean Featherstun told the Mt. Vernon Register News letting certain criminals out does nothing for public safety.

Zanotti said the Bail Reform Act is just another example of lawmakers not considering the needs of people outside Chicago.

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