By Leslie Acevedo
CHICAGO, IL – Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx this week via Twitter reiterated her commitment to ensuring pretrial fairness and the elimination of bail bonds.
Foxx posted a tweet on Dec. 30 with the caption, “We remain committed to the principles of pretrial fairness & the elimination of money bond. PFA’s historic reforms are an important step toward improving community safety & addressing decades of harm to Black & Brown communities.”
She posted a Facebook video along with her tweet on “Cook County Continuing Implementation of SAFE-T Act on January 1 and Cook County Leaders Stand Firm in their Commitment to Ending Money Bond.”
Foxx shared that, back in 2013, the “[d]aily population at Cook County Jail hovered somewhere around 10,800 to 11,000 people per day.” Growing up in Chicago, she recalled in one of her high school field trips to Cook County Jail in 1988, they were “[d]ealing with an overcrowding issue.”
The prosecutor added her visit to the Cook County Jail in 1988 scared her into the field of prosecution, noting, “We had an issue that we all knew about and we took for granted was just that these were folks in jail.”
Through a collaborative effort, they were looking at the jail population, trying to figure: “Why did we have such a stubbornly large population in Cook County Jail?” Considering the issues around crime and violence, particularly in 1988, “[w]hen we had homicide rates that dwarf or where we are dwarfed now by the rates that we had in the eighties, 800, 900, a thousand murders when we had an over swelling jail population.”
Looking at the data provided by Loyola University, Foxx said “70 percent of the people who were at Cook County jails were there for low level non-violent offenses, not crimes of violence.”
Foxx said she found those who were incarcerated were there for non-violent, low level offenses, especially class four felonies…(and were there for) not being able to afford their bond. Those who were charged with violent crimes, given monetary amounts, who if they were able to secure it, would be released to go home, “making no sense.”
Foxx explained, “There is money that may be available from whatever enterprise that you are with to be able to secure your freedom.”
She said the safety issue at hand is “seeing people charged with violent crimes bail themselves out with cash through bail bonds compared to those who don’t have it.”
Foxx added, per data and research, “People who are out pending trial have better outcomes in terms of the ability to maintain employment…(we) have a system right now where we have people who maybe have a job and we say, you can’t get out and so they lose their jobs or they lose their housing or they lose their ability to provide for someone in their community.”
Those who are not able to secure the funds to be released lose their job and stability, among other things, and do not go to trial, showing disparity, Foxx said.
She said there needs to be a talk about bail. “Particularly as it relates to the issues of pretrial detention, (there) are the people who plead guilty to crimes because they want to go home, they do, because we’re talking about class fours because we’re talking about class threes that perhaps someone is looking at perhaps a probation, and the incentive is, all right, if I plead guilty to this, I get to go home and what’s a little probation?”
Foxx noted how those who plead guilty to crimes they may not have been guilty of may simply want to be released, as can be seen with drug cases.
As a prosecutor, Foxx said she “[wants] people who pose a threat to the community to not be able to have access to resources to allow them to get out and under the current bail system that we have right now.”