The Illinois Supreme Court created the Office of Statewide Pretrial Services in August of 2021. Illinois has a long history of pretrial reform efforts. Dissatisfaction with the commercial money bail bond system prompted Illinois to become one of the first states to abolish bail bondsmen in 1963. The Pretrial Services Act became effective on July 1, 1987, providing the legal framework for the pretrial process in Illinois. While section 1 of the Act provides that “[e]ach circuit court shall establish a pretrial services agency,” this goal remains a work in progress.
In recent years, the Illinois Supreme Court has taken important steps to support pretrial reform in our state. The Court adopted a policy statement for pretrial services in April 2017, followed by creation of the Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices in November 2017. The Commission studied best practices in use around the country, consulted pretrial reform experts, listened to stakeholders at public hearings throughout the state, and analyzed the myriad sources of academic and professional analysis of pretrial issues. The Commission’s thorough study, discussion and spirited debates over the past two years culminated with a Final Report issued in April 2020.
In February of 2021 the Illinois Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law, PA 101-0652 (The “SAFE-T Act”), which contained the Pretrial Fairness Act. In an effort to support these efforts the Illinois Supreme Court created the Office of Statewide Pretrial Services to serve the People of Illinois by contributing to increased public safety and increasing equality in the pretrial stage of the criminal justice system.
Since its inception, the OSPS worked to establish quality pretrial services in counties where pretrial services did not exist. Presently, the OSPS is providing services in 70 counties.