An Illinois state senator who sponsored recently-signed legislation that will eliminate cash bail in the state by 2023 is outraged that a man who allegedly flashed a gun at him while driving only had to post $1,500 to get out of jail.
“By him being released on bail, he’s free to do this again,” Sen. Elgie Sims of Chicago told the State-Journal Register.
Yet just last month Sims tweeted, “money bond doesn’t guarantee public safety or someone’s appearance in court, it supports a system where freedom is based on the size of someone’s bank account. We’ve tried the failed tough on crime polices [sic] of the past.”
The legislation Sims sponsored in January will soon prohibit Illinois judges from setting any cash bail except when the defendant “poses a real and present threat” to safety.
Sims called this week’s incident a “perfect example of how cash bail doesn’t make people more safe.”
Sims told the newspaper that he was driving in Springfield on Monday evening when the accused man, 54-year-old Michael Hoyle, drove up behind him with his horn honking and headlights flashing.
Hoyle passed him, then Sims pulled alongside and told Hoyle that he was on the phone with 911, the senator recalled.
“That’s when he pulls out a handgun and points the gun at me and says, ‘Let’s go,’” Sims reportedly said.
The vehicles separated, Sims said, but Hoyle found him and “started chasing me again.” He said he saw Hoyle holding a gun outside his vehicle.
Police arrested Hoyle nearby, and prosecutors charged him with unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a firearm with a revoked Firearm Owner’s ID card, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to police, there’s no evidence to suggest that Hoyle targeted Sims because of his position in the senate.
A judge set bail at $15,000. Hoyle had to post 10% of that to get out of jail.
“The trauma does not just extend to me,” Sims told the newspaper. “My wife has not slept a full night since this happened. Those traumas are real.”
It’s not clear why Sims believes a person like Hoyle should be jailed until trial — away from their families, unable to maintain employment or provide support — while accused of a non-violent crime.