'It went well': As cashless bail starts in suburban courts, who was detained, who wasn't

For judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and other courtroom personnel, it was business as usual Monday as cashless bail went into effect in courtrooms around the state.

"Everyone was prepared and it went well," Kane County Chief Judge Clint Hull said.

Of six first-appearance hearings - formerly known as bond hearings - held in Kane County, one defendant was detained on a domestic violence charge and another was detained on a stalking charge, Hull said.

A component of the pretrial fairness portion of Illinois' sweeping criminal justice system reform legislation known as the SAFE-T Act, advocates have hailed the new system. They say cash bail punished poor people and people of color charged with low-level offenses, filling jails with people unable to post the amount required for release.

Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell Jr. welcomed the end of money bond, calling Monday "a momentous day for the clients and the communities we serve ... and the start of a more fair and just pretrial process throughout our state."

But opponents argue the new system will make communities less safe by allowing the release of potentially dangerous people.

At the Rolling Meadows courthouse in suburban Cook County's Third Municipal District, a 42-year-old woman appeared in court after her arrest Sunday in Hanover Park on charges of aggravated DUI, a felony, and misdemeanor DUI. She was released from custody, but Judge Ellen Mandeltort prohibited the woman from operating any vehicle and ordered her to return to court next month.

A 35-year-old man charged Sunday in Mount Prospect with aggravated DUI, endangering the life of a child and driving without a license or insurance, also was released, but prohibited from driving or consuming alcohol, and ordered he submit to random drug testing.

Mandeltort granted prosecutors' petition to detain a 28-year old Schiller Park man who prosecutors say has a prior felony conviction for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He was charged again Sunday with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after, prosecutors say, police responding to a report of an irate man at a convenience store discovered a loaded, semi-automatic weapon in his waistband.

Prosecutors did not ask Judge Joel Greenblatt to detain any defendants charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in Cook County, including an Elgin man who they say threw a chicken sandwich at his wife, striking her in the face. Prosecutors said he has two prior domestic violence convictions and one for violating an order of protection.

Greenblatt ordered him to surrender any firearms, submit to GPS monitoring and obey an order of protection.

Under the new law, judges can order a defendant detained only if prosecutors request it. But judges may inquire about what conditions prosecutors want the court to impose on a defendant.

In DuPage County, Judge Joshua Dieden presided over 22 cases, mostly misdemeanor domestic batteries. He denied a request to detain a man charged with slapping his 12-year-old son in the face because he did not put away his toys, according to prosecutors. But the judge ordered the defendant to live somewhere else and have no contact with the boy while the case is pending.

In another matter, Dieden asked for clarification of the law regarding a man charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, because he has no firearm owners' identification. The man is on probation for a 2021 conviction on a similar weapons charge. A prosecutor told the judge the law does not allow her to petition for detention in the case, to which Dieden responded, "the court is concerned."

DuPage prosecutors also sought detention for two women from Missouri charged with stealing items from Macy's at Oakbrook Center, citing prior arrests and the risk they would not return to court. Dieden denied the request.

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  In most cases, the rollout of cashless bail proceeded smoothly at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton, as it did in other suburban districts. Brian Hill/
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