Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.
   
     
     
     



Commentary: Dart's misguided approach to jail reform

Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune
by Alan Mills and Alexa Van Brunt

The Cook County Board will soon hear a proposed resolution to investigate the impact of bail reform in the county. The proposal is in response to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s recent misguided letter to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, advising her that he would not comply with court orders freeing people in jail on bond.

Dart has granted himself unilateral power to continue incarcerating people who are entitled to be released. Dart should remember he is a jailer, not a jurist.

His actions — willfully failing to obey judicial orders — have no place in a democratic society. Last September, the Cook County Circuit Court created a new policy mandating that bail be set in an amount that defendants can afford to pay. It was an essential step toward fixing a pretrial system that has historically discriminated against the poor and minorities in this county.

Now Dart claims this reform has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of people accused of gun crimes being released from jail on electronic monitoring. He says this trend justifies his willful disregard of judicial decisions about who should be released pretrial.

Dart’s claim is demonstrably false. It also distorts who should be making jail-release decisions for people who are presumed innocent of committing any crime.

 

It is false because there has been no real increase in the number of alleged gun offenders released since bond reform passed last fall. In a letter responding to Dart’s claims, Preckwinkle noted that the percentage of all cash bonds for gun charges only went up 1 percent since September.

 

There’s also no evidence that bond reform has harmed community safety: Preckwinkle cited Dart’s own data to assert that, of the 195 alleged gun offenders released pretrial since the new bond policy went into effect, only five picked up new gun charges as of Feb. 1.

 

Dart’s recent claims also undermine bedrock principles concerning the separation of judicial and executive function. It is not his job to determine who gets to be released on bond.

Issues of community safety are precisely those that bond court judges are tasked with deciding. In bond court, judges look at the alleged crime, the evidence supporting the charges and the accused person’s criminal history. Judges also hear from the state and the defendant as to whether bond should be set, and to consider other terms of release.

This is a weighty decision about a most basic right — the right to liberty — and it results in a binding court order.

Dart is now overriding these release decisions based on his personal feelings, and as he feels politics dictate. His unlawful actions are, unsurprisingly, publicly opposed by other Cook County stakeholders such as public defender Amy Campanelli, Preckwinkle and Timothy Evans, chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Dart’s letter to Preckwinkle also implicates the worst kind of discrimination. (He wrote: “In addition, many of these individuals are immediately returning to communities plagued by gun violence.”) It is based on an assumption that people from certain neighborhoods in the city are less entitled to be released from jail than those from wealthier, whiter communities.

This is not justice.

We cannot stand by and allow this misappropriation of power to go unchecked. Sheriff Dart must respect the rule of law and accept decisions by judges, even if he thinks those decisions are wrong. If he refuses to do so, he should be replaced by someone who will.

Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center, has been litigating prisoners’ rights cases for more than 35 years.

Alexa Van Brunt is a civil rights attorney and clinical professor at the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. She is litigating a class-action lawsuit about cash bond in Cook County.



Recent Headlines

CTA Moves Forward with Major Red Line Projects:
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Borrow $10B to help stabilize city pensions along with legal pot, casino and benefit cuts: Rahm
Thursday, December 13, 2018
The Daily Line

Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: “Abject moral and human rights failure”
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Capitol Fax

How local suburbs voted in Cook County minimum wage/paid sick leave advisory referenda
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Bugel

Cook County restores tax on parking apps before January cut took effect
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County repeals lower parking-app tax rate
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

PRECKWINKLE’s tax tweak — Details on BURKE raids — State REPUBLICANS look for hope — SUMMERS’ tirade
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Illinois Politico

County Board to take on taxes,toilets at Wednesday meeting
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Woman, 19, arrested after escaping police custody at Cook County courthouse
Sunday, December 09, 2018
WLS ABC Chicago 7

Here's an exciting prospect: A boring assessor's office
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Sheriff starts unique inmate program to combat Chicago's gun epidemic
Thursday, December 06, 2018
RTV 6 Indianapolis

Staff feud at tax appeals board turns nasty
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Tax Bills Posted Online Three Months Early
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
CBS Chicago

County Board makes it easier to choose Preckwinkle successor
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New Cook County assessor vows end to favoritism as he takes office
Monday, December 03, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

New Cook County Board members sworn in Monday
Monday, December 03, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County referendums: 'Yes' to everything
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Chicago City Wire

Glenview to discuss Cook County minimum wage, paid sick leave ordinances in December
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wilmette reverses course, fully adopts both county minimum wage and sick time rules
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

What Pritzker's minimum wage increase plan could mean for the suburbs
Monday, November 26, 2018
Daily Herald

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP