State’s Attorney Foxx Announced a Major Bond Reform Initiative
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s new recommendation of setting I-Bonds for non-violent or low-risk offenders who have been detained in the Cook County Jail for a prolonged period of time due to their inability to pay for their bonds amounting to $1000 or less.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx asserts justice to individuals in a financial struggle. The State’s Attorney spoke of the unjust system that people with financial difficulty have to go through, wherein individuals accused of low-level offenses are routinely detained simply because they are unable to pay for the bonds subjected to them due to their financial circumstances. This, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx notes, affects the confidence of the public in the fairness of the justice system. As such, the policy change is proposed to recognize and work on a decrease in the overreliance of the Office on pre-trial detention.
Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice Executive Director Malcolm Rich commended the major bond reform initiative by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He mentioned the importance of the leadership made by the State’s Attorney’s Office in relation to the support in expanding pre-trial release, as it eradicates the perimeters that determines who anticipates trial in jail and who gets to be released and await for trial in the community. “By supporting non-monetary release (I-Bonds) for many people, State’s Attorney Foxx is helping to move Cook County away from a money-based system of pretrial justice,” said Executive Director Malcolm Rich.
This new policy allows the release during the defendant’s own recognizance pending trial of offenders with a misdemeanor or low-level felony charges who has no prior violent criminal history. Additionally, the offender must pose no threat or risk factors to the community and should be present in all court hearings. Furthermore, the bond reform adjusts the current practices of Assistant State’s Attorneys, in which they only previously participated in bond hearings by reading a proffer of alleged facts.
Offenses that are eligible to be recommended for I-Bonds include criminal damage to property, possession of a controlled substance, and retail theft. In Cook County, felony offenders are brought to bond court for verdict on whether the defendant may be released on I-Bond in pre-trial, be given cash bond, or be held without bail. Offenders who received a cash bond shall, under normal circumstances, are required to post 10% of the cash bond in order to be discharged from jail. Otherwise, the offender will be held in Cook County Jail. Assistant State’s Attorneys may determine conditions set for each offender, accompanying the cash bond given by the Judge. Moreover, they retain the discretion to argue against I-Bond under circumstances in which the defendant indicated a risk to public safety, which may be based on the Public Safety Assessment tool used in felony bond courts.
“Public safety is best served by detaining those who pose a threat to our communities rather than jailing those who are simply poor and unable to post bond for nonviolent offenses,” State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said. “This costs taxpayers millions of dollars per year and does not serve public safety.”
Cook County’s new bond reform initiative complements the participation of Cook County in the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, which aims to, ultimately, employ strategies to reduce the jail population. The new policy ensures non-violent and low-level felony cases to be reviewed quickly and to reduce cash bond in accordance with their financial capabilities.
Pastor in Englewood, Rev. Dwayne Grant – a leader with the grassroots organization, The People’s Lobby, speaks and fights for the bail reform. “I’ve spent time in jail before trial simply because I couldn’t afford bail, and that’s not right,” says Rev. Grant. The organization commends Cook County State’s Attorney Foxx for her efforts in utilizing her capacity to adjust and recommend the policy reform such that considerations are now being made for people in financial struggle to cease the incarceration and discrimination against non-violent and low-level criminal offenders under financial constraints.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office began with the review of the 50 oldest cases involving bonds amounting to $1000 or less. It was revealed that the Public Defender has previously filed a motion to reduce cash bond; however, there were instances in which the offenders were still unable to pay due to financial struggles.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is committed to pursuing the review of these cases, in line with the Office’s extensive efforts to create major reformation in the bond process.
Updated: September 14, 2020