County commissioner seeks creative ways to stem jail overcrowding

2013-11-13T14:26:00Z 2013-11-13T22:07:55Z County commissioner seeks creative ways to stem jail overcrowdingGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 13, 2013 2:26 pm  • 

CHICAGO | The Cook County Board will debate the creation of a special fund that would give small loans so people can post bond and avoid sitting in the county jail while their criminal cases are pending.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, presented a resolution Wednesday, saying the county jail in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood is at capacity largely because of nonviolent offenders who just can’t come up with any money to post bail.

Suffredin’s resolution calls for the county budget director and the Justice Advisory Council’s executive director to meet in coming months to study whether such a loan program is practical to create.

The resolution calls for them to report back to the Cook County Board by March 1, and the County Board would then act on any proposal next spring, Suffredin said.

As proposed, a person would have to face a nonviolent misdemeanor or felony charge, would not be permitted to use such a loan to hire a private attorney, could not get a loan for more than $2,000 and would have to show proof of medical coverage either through private insurance or through the CountyCare program at Stroger Hospital.

A person who is given a “detention” bond by a Cook County judge has to post 10 percent of the amount to get out of jail, meaning that anyone with a bond higher than $20,000 would not qualify for a loan.

“The purpose of the fund shall be to provide no-interest loans to detainees at the Cook County Jail for payment of their court-ordered bail bond and provide an ongoing source of funding through achieved savings,” the resolution reads.

Suffredin said the average cost of housing someone at Cook County Jail is $143 per day, and that someone who winds up being held indefinitely costs the county more than the program would lend them to get out of jail quickly.

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