How’s cashless bail going? Here’s what the data says

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly described the status of Frank Walaitis car and bicycle.

About seven months after Illinois ended cash bail as a key provision of the much-debated SAFE-T Act, fears that it would lead to a surge in freed criminal suspects committing more offenses or skipping court so far haven't materialized, at least in Cook County.

The Circuit Court of Cook County recently redesigned its website to add weekly statistics on court attendance and the rates at which defendants pick up new charges while on pretrial release.

According to the latest data — which spans from the end of cash bail on Sept. 18, 2023, through April 13 — 30,012 defendants have been granted pretrial release in Cook County, while 1,970 have been detained.

Of those released, 26,930 of them — about 90% — have appeared in court as required, including 88% of felony defendants. That's an improvement from three years ago, when about 80.4% of those charged with felonies and released on bond attended their scheduled court hearings, according to a report from the Civic Federation.

The data shows that among defendants released while awaiting trial, 89% of them have not incurred additional charges. Among the 11% who had, 4% of them were violent offenses. That's again an improvement over 2021, when 18.2% faced new charges, according to the Civic Federation report.

“The preliminary data on the dashboard indicates we were well-prepared to implement (the) law,” Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans said in a news release. “Initial statistics indicate that our jurisdiction has reduced the number of defendants in custody, and that the majority of defendants on pretrial release are doing what they’re supposed to be doing — going to their court dates and staying away from criminal activity. This is positive news, both for public safety and for justice.”

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans Daily Herald File Photo

Other stats worth noting:

· Between Sept. 18 and April 13, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office asked that 3,341 defendants be detained, out of 18,487 total cases filed. Judges granted the petition 59% of the time, and ordered release with conditions 40% of the time. The other 1% of cases remain pending.

· Since cash bail ended, the inmate population of the Cook County jail has dropped from 5,419 to 4,739, a 13% decline. The number of people on electronic monitoring is down 12%, from 1,846 to 1,633.

· Misdemeanor defendants are running afoul of the law when released more often, and for more serious offenses, than those charged with felonies or domestic violence. About 14% of misdemeanor defendants faced new charges, compared to 11% of felony defendants and 9% of those charged with domestic violence. And 560 of those new cases involved crimes against other people, compared to 203 for felony defendants and 287 for domestic violence defendants.

· Of the 3,076 charges brought against people on pretrial release, 47% of them have been property crimes. Another 11% are drug-related.

To check out the dashboard and other Cook County court stats, visit

Kane County data

The Kane County Circuit Court implemented a dashboard in October, but it does not track everything Cook does. Instead, it reports numbers of cases by arresting agency, the most serious charge, petitions to detain filed by prosecutors, and how many of those petitions were granted. As of Thursday afternoon, first-appearance court judges have said “yes” to detaining 98 people, and “no” for 208 others. Two dozen cases had been continued for further hearing, and data on another 22 cases had not been entered yet.

Sex offender missing

In November, 58-year-old Frank Walaitis pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of two children he taught at an Elgin day-care center and preschool. In late February he was sentenced to four years of sex-offender probation. Kane County Judge John Barsanti said it was better than sending him to prison, as prosecutors had requested, because he would likely serve a little over a year and not get any sex-offender treatment.

Former teacher sentenced to sex offender probation for abusing students at Elgin preschool

Teacher pleads guilty to sexually abusing students at Elgin preschool

Instead, with probation, Barsanti could order drug and alcohol use evaluations, and see that Walaitis participated in sex-offender treatment. “I can keep Mr. Walaitis under the thumb of the court,” Barsanti said.

Teacher charged with sexually abusing kids at Elgin child care center

But Thursday, Walaitis, formerly of Carpentersville, did not show up for a scheduled court date. It turns out he is missing.

In March, Walaitis moved to Farina, in southwestern Illinois, according to court records.

Frank R. Walaitis, when he was arrested in 2022.

And on March 30, he disappeared. According to the Fayette County sheriff, his vehicle was found, abandoned but in running condition, in rural Brownstown. The owner of the home at which Walaitis was living said they had not seen him since March 29. A bicycle he liked to ride was missing. His family filed a missing-persons report.

The sheriff has no leads.

Barsanti issued an arrest warrant for Walaitis.

Another scam

Illinois State Police say somebody is calling people, claiming to be a state police investigator, and telling them their identity has been stolen.

It is not true.

The agency says investigators never make cold calls requesting personal or financial information, or asking you to confirm such information.

If you get such a call, ask for the caller’s name, badge number and phone number, and then hang up, the agency says.

You can verify if a state police investigator is calling you by contacting one of the ISP regional offices. For Chicago and the suburbs, that would be the Elgin-based Zone 1 office at (847) 608-3200.

If you have provided personal or financial information to a caller, or think someone may have stolen your identifying information, ISP recommends contacting the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit bureaus to put a freeze on your credit.

You can also call the Illinois Attorney General's Identity Theft Hotline at (866) 999-5630.

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