CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County officials are calling for statewide bail reform, in line with a report authored by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Sheriff Tom Dart said the Holder memo finds that Cook County judges regularly set bail that’s simply too high for low-level defendants to pay, so they stay in jail while awaiting trial. WBBM’s Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.
“In the amount of people we house because they are poor, they have a lot of health needs, on any given day we are moving hundreds of people to doctors appointments,” Dart said. “That is not what a jail was ever set up to do.”
Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli said Chief Judge Tim Evans had ordered changes to the bail system, but the goal must be wider.
“Since Judge Evans order can only be applied to his jurisdiction here in Cook County, it is essential that any reform be implemented by a permanent and uniform statewide solution,” Campanelli said.
She said she and other Cook County officials are starting a process. They are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to set new bail rules.
“By requesting that the Illinois Supreme Court consider issuing new rules that would require any monetary bail determinations be accompanied by a hearing and a finding that the accused can, in fact, afford to post the amount in question,” Campanelli said.
And she said there are already safeguards to make sure violent or flight-risk defendants do not get low bail.