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Expert Says End To Cash Bail Does Not Mean Greater Risk To Community Safety In States Where It Has Happened

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Among the police reform measures that recently passed in Springfield is an end to cash bail.

The measure allows defendants to go free at a judge's discretion, without bail, while they await trial. But does policy work?

CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot spoke to an expert to find out. The expert said no cash bail hasn't resulted in a greater risk to community safety in New Jersey or other states where's it's being used.

Dr. Arthur Lurigio is a professor of criminal justice and criminology at Loyola University Chicago. He said no cash bail in New Jersey has reduced crime and repeat offenses.

"Overall, bail reform in New Jersey has been successful," Lurigio said.

He said research has looked at two things in New Jersey when it comes to no cash bail - the re-arrest rate and court reappearances. Court appearances haven't gone down, but the arrest rate has.

"It could be for one of two reasons," Lurigio said. "One is detainees that are arrested, no longer confined to jail, are really not committing new crimes - or it could be police officers are less inclined to make an arrest."

Le Mignot asked Lurigio if that is a bad thing, depending on the crime.

"I think for minor criminal activity, not making an arrest may be in the best interest of the person of interest arrested and in the interest of the community," he said.

Illinois State Sen. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) introduced the police reform legislation that awaits Gov. JB Pritzker's signature to become law. Sims said if approved, no cash bail would not go into effect until 2023 to give the courts a thorough understanding of the policy.

"Train judges on what the new policies mean. Train judges on the new risk assessment," Sims said. "They're going to have those two years to do that."

Meantime, Lurigio said studies have also shown no cash bail has led to a lower jail population, which leads to lower costs for local budgets. He said no studies have been done to know for sure if no cash bail has affected arrest decisions.

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