Elimination of Cash Bail In Illinois: Financial Impact Analysis


The courts kept 70 percent of bond payments to satisfy fees and assessments, eight percent for fines, and two percent for restitution payments.

As of January 2023, Illinois courts can longer require cash bail for criminal defendants. Previously, courts would deduct fines, fees, and assessments from bond payments and retain 10 percent of the bond as a bond processing fee. With the elimination of cash bail, Illinois courts sought how the change in law would financially impact counties. This report calculates the amount of money 96 counties across Illinois collect and process annually in bond payments between 2016 and 2021 and how circuit court clerks distribute those bond amounts. With the elimination of revenue generated from bond processing fees, the ability to pay off imposed fees, fines, and assessments with money posted for bail will end. This analysis will help counties prepare for the upcoming loss of revenue and identify other sources of revenue that can be used to support their activities. 

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Key Findings:

  • Over the five years, counties disbursed, on average, $141 million yearly in bond payments; Cook County accounts for 40 percent of the statewide average, collecting an average of $58.1 million yearly.
  • In 2016, 96 circuit clerks collected $15.1 million in bond processing fees, and Cook County accounted for $4.8 million.
  • On average, bond processing fees represented 58.2 percent of the total bond allocations to circuit clerks over the five years.
  • Bond processing fees collected by circuit court clerks represent 11 percent of clerks’ total fee revenue.
  • Of the total fees applied from bond payments, an average of 60 percent was distributed to pay county-specific fees; the remaining 40 percent was directed to other state or municipal fees imposed on the defendant.
The Civic Federation