CHICAGO — It turns out that Illinois’ brand-new cashless bail system isn’t working quite the way one of its biggest champions thought it would.
State Sen. Elgie Sims of Chicago sponsored the legislation, and two months after it passed, he had a personal experience that he claimed served as a perfect example of how no-cash bail would make the state safer.
In March 2021, Sims was driving in Springfield when another driver allegedly drove up behind him, honked his horn, and flashed a gun at him.
The man passed him, then Sims pulled alongside and told the man 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 said. The vehicles separated, Sims said, but the man found him and “started chasing me again.” He said he saw the man extending a gun from his vehicle.
Cops caught the suspect, 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. The man went home by paying a $1,500 bail deposit.
“By him being released on bail, he’s free to do this again,” Sims told the State-Journal Register at the time. He called the incident a “perfect example of how cash bail doesn’t make people more safe.”
“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.”
Sims might be surprised to learn that on Monday, the first day of cashless bail, a Chicago man appeared in a detention hearing on the same general allegations. The judge sent him home.
Just before midnight Sunday, a 23-year-old woman called 911 and reported that another driver pointed a gun at her as they drove in Chicago. She described the man and the weapon and gave police the guy’s license plate number, according to a Chicago police arrest report.
Cops quickly located the vehicle in the 1000 block of West 35th Street. And they detained 29-year-old Deangelo Batteast-Spears, who was placing items in the car, the report said.
Officers patted Batteast-Spears down and allegedly found a loaded handgun. According to the police report, he told officers he carries the weapon because he owns a vending machine company and frequently travels with money.
When cops asked him why he thought they stopped him, he replied something to the effect of “she tried to run me off the road,” the report said.
On Monday afternoon, during the very first cashless bail detention hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, prosecutors didn’t even ask Judge Mary Marubio to hold Batteast-Spears in custody.
The judge released him with no restrictions other than the usual order to attend court and not contact the victim.
Sorry to break the news, senator.