Alvarez Questions Wisdom Of Suggested Alternatives To Jail For Some Inmates

Prosecutor Says Some Held On Non-Violent Charges Have Violent Past

cook county jail 0404 Alvarez Questions Wisdom Of Suggested Alternatives To Jail For Some Inmates
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has expressed reservations about efforts to reduce the number of detainees being housed at the Cook County Jail.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart have sought alternate arrangements such as home monitoring for inmates charged with non-violent crimes.

However, Alvarez urged caution against a broad-brush approach to releasing defendants based only on current charges.

“We always have to ask ourselves ‘Are we smart on crime?’” she said. “I don’t think we can always look at the criminal justice system just with dollar signs.”

Alvarez said more than 80 percent of the inmates at the jail have violent backgrounds, even if the charges they currently face might be for non-violent crimes.

“Maybe they got picked up on a drug case this time, but they have a long history of violence; they have a long history of failing to appear in court, and having – as we call them – BFWs, which are bond forfeiture warrants. All that has to be taken into account.”

Alvarez said public safety might dictate keeping such criminals behind bars.

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