Chicago Summer of Justice Reform

We arrive at summer in Chicago with an agenda of interesting and manageable opportunities to make a contribution to criminal justice reform.  

Spreading the Word

Consider exploring more deeply one or more of the resources mentioned in the update and sending that update and sharing this post to others who could be interested in learning more and making a difference.

Preserving and Expanding Bail Reform in Cook County

We can each easily make a contribution to maintaining the momentum of bail reform in Chicago by signing the petition addressed to officials of Cook County government and court system (that you will find by clicking here) asking them to continue to push forward with comprehensive bond reform in Cook County, and by sharing the petition with others.

Last September, Chief Judge Timothy Evans issued General Order 18.8A, which requires Cook County judges to set money bonds for those accused of a crime only in amounts people can afford to pay.

Nevertheless, approximately 2,500 people continue to be incarcerated in Cook County Jail without having been convicted solely because they cannot afford to pay their money bonds, more than nine months after the order took effect, and in the first three months of 2018, only 54% of people ordered to pay money bonds were actually able to pay them and secure release.

Increasing Housing Opportunities for Those Who Have Been Arrested or Incarcerated

We all can also participate in the simple process that has been devised by the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance and Housing Action Illinois to support the initiative described in the this “one-pager” that  they are relaunching this summer to overcome barriers that those with arrest records or prior convictions face in leasing a place to live.

We can each help by getting organizations of which we are members to complete the Endorsement Form endorsing their proposal to amend Cook County’s Human Rights Ordinance to prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to individuals on the basis of having an arrest record and from implementing a policy of not renting to anyone who has been convicted of a crime.  (Landlords’ would still be entitled to consider a prior conviction among all other factor in each individual case.)

Individually, we each can also fill out, and ask others to fill out, and send back to those organizations cards in the form that will be available soon at this web location to confirm individual support for the proposal, for them to pass along to the appropriate Cook County Commissioner.

Legislation Requiring Governor Rauner’s Signature

Please also review the extensive list in the attached update of important criminal justice reform legislation that was passed by the Illinois Legislature in its spring session, and figure out you can join with others in contacting Governor Rauner to insist that he sign them into law.

All that should still give you plenty of time left to enjoy your summer.