ABOUT US

The Coalition to End Money Bond formed in May 2016 as a group of member organizations with the shared goal of stopping the large-scale jailing of people simply because they were unable to pay a monetary bond. In addition to ending the obvious unfairness of allowing access to money determine who is incarcerated and who is free pending trial, the Coalition is committed to reducing the overall number of people in Cook County Jail and under pretrial supervision as part of a larger fight against mass incarceration. The Coalition to End Money Bond is tackling bail reform and the abolition of money bond as part of its member organizations’ larger efforts to achieve racial and economic justice for all residents of Cook County.

WHO WE ARE

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PRINCIPLES OF BAIL REFORM

IN COOK COUNTY

The pretrial detention system in Cook County needs reform. Cook County Jail
incarcerates approximately 7,500 people per day. An additional 2,000 people are
under the Sheriff’s supervision through electronic monitoring. More than 90% of the
people detained are pretrial and thus presumed innocent—a considerably higher
rate than the national rate of 67%. Approximately two thirds of unconvicted people
incarcerated or on electronic monitoring in Cook County would be free if they could
afford to pay a monetary bond.

The overuse of pretrial incarceration and monitoring comes at tremendous personal
cost to impacted individuals and entire communities. Pretrial detention leads to lost
jobs, lost housing, and even lost custody of children. In addition, people detained
pretrial are more likely to be convicted. They also receive longer sentences
compared to people released pretrial with similar backgrounds and charges. African
Americans receive disproportionately high monetary bonds and are
disproportionately unable to pay these bonds. Seventy-three percent of the people
incarcerated in the Cook County Jail are African American despite the fact that
African Americans make up only 25% of Cook County’s population.
Recent history has shown that the population of Cook County Jail can be decreased
substantially with no impact on public safety or court appearance rates. The
following six principles provide guidance for reform efforts designed to reduce the
number of people incarcerated pretrial in Cook County Jail.

1. Access to money should not determine whether or not an accused person is
detained in jail or subject to other conditions pending trial.

2. Pretrial services programs should be used to promote court attendance and
provide needed services and not place unnecessary conditions on the
accused person.

3. Conditions of bail should not prevent an accused person from performing
basic personal responsibilities, impose direct or indirect economic costs, or
unduly expose the accused person to new criminal charges.

4. Pretrial detention and other restrictions on liberty should be used only as a
last resort to ensure community safety and the defendant’s appearance in
court.

5. Data on detention and release outcomes should be collected and made
available for public review and system assessment purposes. Risk
assessments, if used, must be validated, transparent, and their impact must
be tracked.

6. Administrative reforms should be made to ensure court practices conform to
the law. Judges should receive education and training consistent with
existing law and these principles.

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