Last Monday Cook County (Chicago) initiated a bond court. Set up in response to the efforts to end money bond, this court was mandated by Chief Judge Timothy Evans to set bond for people with felony charges at a level that the person charged can afford. While this is not the abolition of money bond, it is an important step in getting people out of one of the most historically overcrowded, decrepit jails in the country. Conditions in the jail have prompted numerous protests and lawsuits.
During the first week, the bond court had mixed results, with some judges making a serious attempt to comply with Judge Evans’ order and others continuing to set high bonds. What is crucial about this initiative for Challenging E-Carceration is that many of those released on bond are being put on electronic monitoring. Local activists from the Coalition to End Money Bond are tracking how frequently EM is used, what the conditions of EM are and the number of people who return to jail because of a violation of their monitoring conditions. Challenging E-Carceration will be working with them to see what might be done to either reduce the usage of EM, reduce the harm when EM is used, and pressure to improve the policies applied to electronic monitoring. Historically, Cook County is the largest EM program in the country so making changes in their understanding and application of monitoring would be a major step in re-shaping thinking about EM. To read more about what is happening in Cook County, go to the following links:
Cook County bail system reforms unveiled; advocates worry not enough — Injustice Watch —