For judges and courts, right to ask defendant for cash bail will end within days in in Illinois. The State has set Monday, September 18, as the first day in which Illinois courts will no longer be empowered to hold a hearing and demand that criminal defendant post cash bail as a condition of pretrial release. Based upon the principle that persons are “innocent until proven guilty,” Illinois law has always granted criminal defendants a recourse under which they can pledge good behavior and live in freedom (albeit under pretrial supervision) until their criminal trial, which may be many months away. This pledge has often been cash, submitted under the supervision of the court.
A controversial law, enacted by Democrats in January 2021 within a lame-duck midnight session of the 101st General Assembly, told the courts they may no longer hold cash-bail bond hearings and order a defendant to post cash bail. House Republicans voted “no” against the new law. Many law enforcement officers protested against this law, and its constitutionality was litigated up to the level of the Illinois Supreme Court. The state’s highest court found in favor of the new law in July. This Supreme Court decision, and the underlying partisan statute, will bind the criminal courts of Illinois on September 18 and thereafter.
The new Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act purports to give the courts an alternative pathway to impose pretrial detention on some criminal defendants. However, the new Act is seen, in the eyes of those who sponsored it and voted for it, as a push for what is called “social justice.” This means that the pathway to Illinois legal pretrial detention, for courts and law enforcement professionals, will be a narrow one. The prosecution seeking legal pretrial detention of a dangerous defendant will have to take on the burden of submitting a series of findings of fact to the court, and only a widespread array of patterned facts will justify the court imposing pretrial detention on any individual defendant. In contrast to this burdensome course of action, after September 18 most Illinois criminal defendants will have a wide range of opportunities to make pledges and promises to the court that, for the purpose of pretrial status, will constitute pretrial bail.
After the 2020 United States Census, the federal Census Bureau redraws the statistical-area map of Illinois. The Census Bureau’s formulas define most Americans, including most of the residents of Illinois, as residents of statistical areas that center on a small city, a big city, or a very big city. The post-2020 census map of Illinois defines these areas as combined statistical areas, metropolitan statistical areas, and micropolitan statistical areas, depending on the size of the central city and how large is the area that it influences.
The central city of an Illinois statistical area may be a large city, like Chicago or St. Louis; a medium-sized city, like Champaign-Urbana or Rockford; or a small city, like Effingham or Mount Vernon. If the central city has a census population below 50,000, the statistical area is likely to be classified as a “micropolitan” area rather than as a metropolitan area. In any case, many Illinois residents may be surprised to find that, in the eyes of the federal government, they live in an urban statistical area.
Census statistical maps are significant for many reasons other than telling people where they live. They are used by health planners when siting new capital resources where physicians and other health care providers offer services; they are used as one of the components in the definition of so-called “underserved areas” to which attention to health care and other items of local infrastructure are required; and they are used by private businesses to sell things, particularly in the advertisements that run on the Internet and on cable television.
Investigation uncovers evidence of massive pandemic fraud among many public-sector employees. The findings, released this week by Illinois Executive Inspector General Susan Haling, include preliminary evidence that indicates that at least 177 State of Illinois employees filed incorrect claims with the federally-mandated Paycheck Proitection Program (PPP). This program, created under crisis conditions by Congress in spring 2020, tried to generate emergency financial survival help for people made jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shutdown orders in Illinois and many other states had led not only to massive layoffs, but to sharp drops in cash flow for many independent contractors and businesspeople. Federal COVID-19 assistance was intended to help all Americans, including independent contractors and people with small businesses.
Under the conditions within which PPP was created and operated, it was very difficult to impose adequate verification requirements upon people who sent online messages to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), asking for money. Before many weeks had gone by, information was circulating on the Internet on how to fill out a false application and grab some free money. Even if a person continued to enjoy a paycheck of a different type, such as pay from a public-sector job, they could always claim to be an independent contractor on the side who had been harmed by the pandemic and shutdown orders. The 177 individuals in the preliminary Haling disclosure many be only a subset of the total roll of alleged PPP fraudsters in Illinois. The cases mentioned by Inspector General Haling have been referred to the Office of the Illinois Attorney General for further action.
The office of the Illinois Executive Inspector General reviews the hiring and employment practices and procedures of the State of Illinois. It accepts information and complaints from all sources regarding fraud, waste, and abuse, including circumstantial evidence that can be used to build a conclusion that reasonable cause exists to determine that fraud or abuse has taken place. Haling’s office has launched 438 investigations into possible PPP fraud, and has concluded 204 of the inquiries; more than half of the inquiries remained active as of this week. The preliminary Haling findings were released on Tuesday, September 12.