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13 Investigates Preview: Why more than half of Boone County's jail could be released by January

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Boone Co Sheriff

BELVIDERE (WREX) — In the early days of 2021, Illinois lawmakers passed the SAFE-T Act. It had several immediate impacts on law enforcement, but also several major pieces that would take place years down the road.

One of the flagship pieces of the act was called the Pretrial Fairness Act. It starts in less than four months at the start of the new year, and in short, eliminates cash bail and bond.

That change could bring a massive change to prisons in our area. Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest says it will depend on who is in the jail by the new year, but expects nearly two thirds of his jail to be able to walk out on January 1, while they await their day in court.

"It really depends on who we have here December 31st," Ernest said. "But clearly on January 1st at 12:01, we will be releasing 60% of the inmates in our facility."

That change is a result of what will now be called detainable offenses and non-detainable offenses. These will be the difference over whether prosecutors can even make a case to hold someone in jail.

Thursday after the NFL season opener on WREX, 13 Investigates breaks down what crimes people can be held on, and how the courts in our area are preparing for the change.

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Investigative Reporter

William Ingalls is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. He joined the team in 2019 as a photographer after graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and English from Augustana College. William was born and raised in Rockford.

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