Building a Survivor-Centered Pretrial System: How Survivor Advocates Helped End Use of Money Bail

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60 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 11, 2023

Madeleine Behr
Madeleine Behr, MPP
Policy Manager
Amanda Pyron
Amanda Pyron, MSW
Executive Director, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence

Throughout all steps of the criminal legal system, victims’ voices are often ignored, disbelieved, and not taken seriously. At bail hearings, survivors are frequently not notified about the court date, or the perpetrator’s release. Additionally, survivors are rarely asked what the perpetrator’s release would mean for their safety and wellbeing. Because of the systemic failures in addressing victims’ safety, survivor advocacy groups worked hand in hand with criminal justice reform advocates to pass groundbreaking legislation in Illinois in 2021. The Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) ends the use of money bail to determine if someone is eligible for pretrial release and focuses instead on their risk of recidivism. Illinois is the first state in the country to pass bail reform legislation with the support of victim advocacy groups.

This presentation will detail the coalition-building, advocacy, and communication strategies by Illinois victim advocacy groups to win support for the PFA. The presenters will discuss the ways PFA supports survivors, and how criminal justice reform and victims’ advocacy work is intertwined and how both are necessary to advance survivor safety and community safety.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Describe the basics of the previous bail system and the new pretrial release system in Illinois and other states, and its impact on survivors of gender-based violence. 
  • Recognize the overlapping interests and intersections within the criminal justice movement and the survivor justice movement to create community safety. 
  • Apply advocacy and coalition-building strategies to your own community to improve survivor safety in the criminal legal system.
  • Evaluate how a new system of pretrial release focused on safety and not wealth would impact the survivors you work with and advocate for.

With a paid registration or subscription, you are free to personally listen to this webinar, as many times as you wish. You may also excerpt or cite the material following accepted conventions. However, you may not allow other individuals to listen to this webinar without their own registration or subscription.

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