State senator who sponsored cash bail ban outraged after man who pointed a gun at him is released

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SPRINGFIELD, IL – An Illinois state lawmaker who sponsored legislation that eliminated cash bail is now furious that a man who had threatened him with a gun has been released. Sen. Elgie Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) was upset that the man was released after posting $1,500.

The Chicago lawmaker said he feared for his life after being threatened with a gun while driving in Springfield Monday, March 15.

Michael L. Hoyle, 54, was arrested on charges of unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a firearm despite having a revoked firearms owner’s identification card (FIOD), aggravated assault/use of a deadly weapon, and possession of ammunition with no valid FOID card.

Hoyle was released from Sangamon County jail the following morning on $15,000 bail, of which 10% had to be paid. Sims said:

“By him being released on bail, he’s free to do this again.”

Sims said he thinks the man would have been detained and kept behind bars if the court performed a more thorough analysis on whether the man posed a risk to public safety. He said he did not believe cash bail would have made a difference:

“I think it’s a perfect example of how cash bail doesn’t make people more safe.”

Sims was the Senate sponsor of legislation that will eliminate the state’s cash-bail system in two years.

The legislation, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in February, is designed to eliminate what many Democratic lawmakers call a bail system that unfairly benefits people with means and penalizes people for being poor because they often cannot afford to post bail.

The legislation will eliminate cash bail in Illinois by 2023. The new law will prevent a judge from imposing cash bail on any defendant unless the defendant “poses a real and present threat” to safety.

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Sims tweeted in February:

“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 policies of the past.”

The incident between Sims and Hoyle began at about 8:15 p.m. as Sims was driving through Springfield after leaving the Stratton Office Building, where he received a COVID-19 test before a Senate session scheduled for later this week.

Police said Sims was traveling west on Lawrence Avenue headed home when Hoyle drove up behind him. Hoyle began blowing his horn and flashing his headlights. Sims then pulled alongside Hoyle and told him he was on the telephone with 911. Sims reported:

“He was riding the horn, then cut in front of me and slammed on his brake on Lawrence a couple blocks before the dip in the road next to Pasfield Golf Course.

“There were a million things going through my mind. I didn’t know what this was, where he came from, how long he had been behind me, how dangerous he was, and whether he was trying to stop me so other cars could come out.”

Sims said that is when Hoyle pulled a handgun:

“That’s when he pulls out a handgun and points the gun at me and says, ‘Let’s go,’”

Sims told police that the two vehicles then separated, but Hoyle found Sims again and chased him again. Sims said, “He turned around and started chasing me again.”

Sims said he saw Hoyle outside his vehicle holding the gun but did not fire at him.

Police located Hoyle in the area and arrested him shortly after the incident. Springfield Police Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkel said:

“At this time, we don’t have any evidence to indicate that the suspect was targeting the victim because of his position.”

While Sims sponsored legislation eliminating cash bail called the Pretrial Fairness Act was included in a package of reforms bundled with House Bill 3653, said in January:

“I think we’re leading the way. We’re showing that it’s possible to reimagine what our criminal justice system looks like.”

The Illinois and Chicago chapters of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police released a statement at the time saying the bill was rushed and would make communities less safe:

“It ties the hands of police officers while pursuing suspects and making arrests, and allows criminals to run free while out on bail.

“This new law is a blatant move to punish an entire, honorable profession that will end up hurting law-abiding citizens the most.”

Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) argued against the passage of the new law, saying the lack of cash bail would allow criminals to return to the streets to re-offend:

“The risk exists that individuals will be released back into the community when, in fact, they have a propensity to commit more crimes, thereby making our communities less safe.

Sims countered Barickman’s opposition at the time by saying the new law was progress:

“(The law is) fundamentally changing the way we do criminal justice in this state. It is bold. It is transformational.”

When Sims was the victim, however, his concerns turned from the rights of the criminal to the rights of the victim:

“The trauma does not just extend to me. My wife has not slept a full night since this happened. Those traumas are real.

Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail after the new law was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in February. The Governor said the new law will transform criminal justice in the state:

“This legislation marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state, and our nation and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness, and true justice.”

Under Illinois’s new law, judges will no longer be able to set any kind of bail for a defendant charged with a crime, making it unique among states that have reformed the bail system, according to legislators.

The cash bail system will not be abolished until January 2023, giving court officials time to prepare for the new system.

 

 

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