Judge Evans issues money bond rule change. Advocates say that if properly implemented, it could significantly reduce the population of Cook County Jail.
CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—July 17, 2017. The Chicago Community Bond Fund welcomes Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans’ new rule that, if implemented, will significantly decrease the use of money bond and significantly reduce the number of people incarcerated pretrial at Cook County Jail. This tentative victory is the result of pressure from a nationwide, grassroots movements for bond reform, as well as a lawsuit charging that Cook County’s money bail system is unconstitutional.
“While we celebrate this hard-fought win, we recognize that our movements must stay vigilant to ensure the new rule is fully enforced and no one is incarcerated because they are too poor to pay bond,” said Matthew McLoughlin, Co-founder of the Chicago Community Bond Fund.
The new rule, General Administrative Order 2017-05, instructs judges to do three things:
- Find out how much, if anything, someone accused of a crime could pay for bond;
- Set bond only in that amount or less; and
- Review all cases in which someone hasn’t posted bond within seven days.
At the same time, the rule does not expand the powers of courts to hold people pretrial, distinguishing it from pieces of legislation proposed this session in Springfield.
“If implemented well and followed by judges, the rule will dramatically decrease the number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail (CCJ). Currently, 62 percent of people in CCJ are locked up only because they cannot post bonds. More than 4,000 people are being incarcerated pretrial at CCJ for being poor. Most of their bail hearings were held in less than a minute, without consideration of their resources as required by Illinois state law,” said McLoughlin.
The new process should impact everyone who is currently incarcerated in Cook County Jail because they cannot pay a bond. Those individuals should either be released without having to pay any money at all, have a new bond set in a lower amount that they can pay, or be given a full detention hearing with all the due process protections that come with that. “We will need vigilant oversight to ensure this process is followed and pretrial detention rates are significantly reduced,” said McLoughlin.
Since its formation in 2015, CCBF has campaigned for the elimination of money bond, because it is the primary cause of pretrial detention in Cook County and is fundamentally unfair. As the new rule begins to take effect, we will continue to accept requests for help paying bond and to evaluate whether or not judges are following the order. We will continue to advocate for people accused of crimes and their families, including pushing back against onerous pretrial conditions of surveillance and control such as house arrest, electronic monitoring, drug testing, and curfews.
The Chicago Community Bond Fund was started in 2015 by a group of activists, attorneys, and community members who’ve been impacted by Cook County Jail. Since its formation CCBF has been working to abolish money bond and end pretrial detention. Additionally, CCBF has operated a revolving fund that has helped free 74 people from Cook County Jail.