By Derrick Blakley

CHICAGO (CBS)—Are too many non-violent offenders being held in Cook County jail just because they can’t make bail?

That’s the charge by Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson.

CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley fact-checked Wilson’s claim.

When Willie Wilson visited county jail on Christmas, along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Wilson was shocked to see so many people locked up for non-violent misdemeanors because they were unable to make bail.

“These young men and young ladies could have been at home with their families,” Wilson said.

According to the Cook County Sheriff’s office, 240 current inmates owe cash bond of $1,000 or less.

Another 110 inmates owe between $1,000 and $2,000.

Chief Tim Evans issued an order requiring a second-look hearing for individuals who can’t afford to post bail, but Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said there’s not enough of that happening.

Public defender Amy Campanelli says her staff isn’t to blame.

A spokesperson for her office today said, “We regularly file motions for bond review, but it is done after talking with our client. We represent our clients and follow their direction.”

But Wilson said he’s unsatisfied with that answer.

He now says he’s contemplating whether to sue Cook County for not following the law to help non-violent inmates get out of jail.

During their Christmas visit, Jackson bailed out three inmates—including Steven Rymos, who owed just $50.

Critics on Wilson’s side say it’s not just the inmates who are losing.

Taxpayers are paying $143 dollars a day just to hold someone at county jail.

Wilson said he’s pledging to donate $100,000 in bond money to help non-violent inmates get released.

Boykin said he wants to hold board hearings on the matter.

 

Derrick Blakley