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Released on 05/09/2019

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans today released a report that reviews the initial results of his order that established new bail practices in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Chief Judge Evans’ General Order 18.8A took effect on September 18, 2017. The report compares outcomes in two 15-month time periods before and after the order’s effective date: (1) July 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017 and (2) October 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018.

The report shows that the increased release of defendants from jail did not increase the threat to public safety in Cook County.

“The court has been at the forefront of bail reform in Illinois, and we use a risk-based assessment to assist with decisions on releasing pretrial defendants,” Chief Judge Evans said. “This report shows that judges are respecting the rights of the accused by releasing eligible pretrial defendants from jail without increasing the threat to public safety. Judges are also protecting our communities by deeming more pretrial defendants a danger and holding them in custody without bail.”

Key findings include:

  • Judges have strengthened community safety, deeming more felony defendants a danger to the community and holding them without release. Judges issued eight times the number of No Bail orders in felony cases since the order took effect. There were 267 No Bail orders entered in the 15 months prior to the order, and 2,192 No Bail orders issued in the 15 months after the order. The use of No Bail was especially noticeable in murder cases (rising from 46.5 percent of murder cases to 92.3 percent) and Class X felonies (rising from 2.7 percent of Class X felonies to 32.7 percent).
  • New cases involving violence are rare. Of the 24,504 pretrial felony defendants released from custody in the 15 months after the order, 147 (or 0.6 percent) were charged with a new violent offense.
  • There was no significant increase in the percentage of defendants who were released from jail after being charged with a violent crime. For pretrial defendants charged with a violent crime, they secured release from jail 43.2 percent of the time before the order and 46.5 percent of the time after the order.
  • Monetary bond is used less frequently, and the dollar amounts are lower. Judges issued monetary bonds (D-Bonds) in 31.2 percent of the felony cases in the 15 months after the order, compared to 48.5 percent of the cases in the 15 months prior to the order. The median bond amount of $1,000 after the order was less than the median bond amount of $5,000 before the order.
  • Fewer defendants are being held in jail. The average monthly jail population has been reduced from 10,064 in January 2014 to 5,799 in December 2018.

To view the report, visit: http://www.cookcountycourt.org/HOME/BailReform.aspx.

The court also publishes quarterly dashboards showing pretrial outcomes in felony cases. They are available here:http://www.cookcountycourt.org/HOME/ModelBondCourtInitiative.aspx

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