Lake County prosecutors aim to keep murder, sex crime defendants jailed after bail ends Jan. 1

  • Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart, pictured here earlier this year, said Wednesday that his office is working to keep violent felons behind bars in advance of bail reform measures expected to begin Jan. 1.

    Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart, pictured here earlier this year, said Wednesday that his office is working to keep violent felons behind bars in advance of bail reform measures expected to begin Jan. 1. Courtesy of the Lake County State's Attorney's Office

 
 
Updated 11/30/2022 9:29 PM

The Lake County state's attorney's office has begun the process of keeping dozens of jailed defendants, including those charged with murder and sex offenses, behind bars after cash bail is eliminated in Illinois on Jan. 1, officials said Wednesday.

According to office, detention petitions have been filed against 46 murder defendants, 35 people charged with sex crimes and 51 jail inmates accused of felony domestic battery.

 

Prosecutors also plan detention petitions against those charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, weapons offenses, shooting offenses, armed robbery, attempted murder, home invasion, and other violent felonies, officials said.

Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said he expects judges to rule on the petitions before the end of the year.

"By filing our petitions now, we are giving the courts ample time to schedule hearings on the current jail inmates," Rinehart said. "We are following the recommendation of the Illinois Supreme Court Task Force and working with our other justice partners to take proactive steps in advance of Jan. 1, 2023."

The end of the state's cash bail system as of New Year's Day is a key provision of the SAFE-T Act, a wide-ranging criminal justice reform law passed in January 2021. State lawmakers are still working to amend and clarify the portion of the law dealing with bail, known as the Pretrial Fairness Act.

As currently written, the law calls for judges not to incarcerate lower-level offenders -- including most charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies such as possession of small amounts of drugs -- while their trials are pending.

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