Chicago’s cashless bail keeps dangerous criminals out of jail and on the streets

A Cook County judge rejected a request from prosecutors on Monday to lock up a Chicago man after he allegedly shot a dog and was caught by cops throwing a backpack over a fence that contained a loaded 9-mm handgun, loose ammunition, and two 50-round drum magazines.

Instead of keeping Darrick Bender locked up until his court date, however, Judge Mary Marubio allowed the 19-year-old, who has a lengthy rap sheet, to leave, slapping him with a curfew and instruction not to go near the dog’s owners.


Bender was identified by a 42-year-old man as the person who shot his American Staffordshire Terrier in Vittum Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side. It is not known if the dog died.

He was arrested and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and reckless discharge of a firearm endangering others. Prosecutors wanted to keep him behind bars but the judge said no.

That was despite him also being arrested last month after a 52-year-old woman told Chicago police officers that he pointed a gun at her. When they caught up to him, they found a key fob in his pocket for a stolen BMW that was parked close by. He was initially charged with possessing a stolen motor vehicle and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though the stolen vehicle charge was dropped a week later.


The “Pretrial Fairness Act” took effect in all of Illinois’s 102 counties on Sept. 18 and abolished cash bail as a condition of pretrial release. Judges like Marubio still have the authority to keep people accused of serious crimes locked up but they’ll have to go through a rigorous review of the case, something that hasn’t typically happened in the past.

The Pretrial Fairness Act is retroactive and people currently in Illinois’s jails will have a hearing where most will likely be released until their court date.

Critics claimed the new policy would put dangerous criminals back on the streets of Illinois, while supporters said that cash bail unfairly penalized minorities and poor people, keeping them locked up for months for petty offenses.


“It has simply exacerbated existing inequities and disparities in the criminal legal system,” he added. “Pretrial detention, as a result of the inability to pay bail, further decimates communities that have long been most impacted by mass incarceration, and the destabilization of households and families.”

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police disagreed and said the elimination of cash bail “confirms Illinois’s status as the state of lawlessness and disorder.”