Justice Summer Update: Issues That Deserve Our Attention

From the Desk of John McLees:

As we have been enjoying the summer, issues pertaining to the operation of the criminal justice system have continued to develop in ways that deserve our attention:

  • Kim Foxx Two recent reports highlight her accomplishments as Cook County State’s Attorney:


  • Pretrial Detention
    • Cash Bail – Efforts are ramping up across the state to support legislation outlawing or limiting the use of cash bail (see https://endmoneybond.org/illinois-network-for-pretrial-justice/)
    • Pretrial release of those accused of unlawful possession of a firearm – Meanwhile controversy has erupted over the methods used by the Cook County courts to decide whether to grant or deny release pending trial for someone who is accused of unlawful possession of a firearm but who has not been convicted and is not accused of violent use of a firearm:
      • Mayor Lightfoot rejected the argument voiced by Cook County Board President Preckwinkle, in a letter to the Mayor, that Police Chief Johnson is promoting a dangerous false narrative in arguing that release pending trial of individuals who are accused of unlawful possession of a firearm, but who are not accused of violent use of a firearm, contributes significantly to gun violence in the city.
      • A report issued by Chief Judge Evans in May concluded that far less than one percent of those accused of a felony in Cook County and released pending the trial have then been charged with a new violent offense.
    • How pretrial detention works.


  • Where to Put Our Resources – There is broad agreement among City, County and State officials and others that it is necessary to shift scarce resources toward investment in affected communities and toward alternatives to incarceration in order to make significant progress in reducing violent crime and to deal with offenders in ways that do not lead them to commit more crimes and create more victims.


  • Re-Entry Housing – One area where more resources are sorely needed is in the creation of housing opportunities for those released from prison. An important recent report by the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Illinois Justice Project (https://www.metroplanning.org/work/project/38) highlights:
    • the critical lack of reentry housing for the 26,000 individuals released from prison in Illinois each year,
    • how that contributes to the inability of these individuals to reestablish productive lives and to the high rate of recidivism and reincarceration in Illinois, and
    • what can be done to increase the availability of reentry housing.

Watch for actions in response to this report that you can support in the coming year.


  • Summer Reading and Regular Updates – Meanwhile: