By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — Many of the gun offenders arrested by Chicago police over the weekend walked out of jail on bond, without having to pay a dime.

As of Monday morning, 19 people had been arrested on gun-related charges. By Monday afternoon, 11 were back on the street, some with prior gun offenses.

“We know who a lot of these people are,” Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said. “And how do we know that? Because we keep arresting them over and over and over and over and over again. And it’s just a vicious cycle.”

In a tweet Sunday night, a Chicago police spokesperson criticized the practice of letting gun offenders out on Individual Recognizance Bonds or “I-Bonds.”

An I-Bond allows a defendant to be released without having to pay, on the promise that he or she will return for the next court date.

The tweet said, in part, “Letting gun offenders out on I-Bonds shows there is absolutely no repercussion for carrying illegal guns In Chicago.”

For a year-and-a-half period from 2015 to 2016, CBS 2 discovered that I-Bonds for gun offenders were given at least a dozen times.

In one 2016 case, Cardell Brown was charged and convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Then when he was on probation he was charged with battery and he walked away on an I-Bond.

“Neither the judge or the prosecutor has a crystal ball,” Steven Block, CBS 2 legal analyst, said.

Block said the Chicago Police Department might be oversimplifying the issue.

“Someone will go out and do something bad on bond. That’s inevitable, but what we need to look at is how you handle the cases on a whole,” he said.

Last month, the Cook County Circuit Court released data showing the frequency of I-Bonds has nearly doubled since new bail practices went into effect in 2017.

But the data doesn’t say how many were for gun charges.

The data also shows slight uptick in the number of defendants charged with a violent crime who are released on bond.

“This report shows that judges are respecting the rights of the accused by releasing eligible pretrial defendants from jail without increasing the threat to public safety,” Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans said last month in a statement.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said it agrees with CPD: It does not recommend I-Bonds in cases involving gun offenses.

In a statement, an office representative said since the beginning of this year, 72% of gun related cases received monetary bail or no bond.

Megan Hickey