Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Jail program for women offenders faces the budget ax

Friday, January 19, 2007
Defender
by Charles O’Toole

Jacalyn Brown looks nothing like the photo on her Cook County Jail ID, and that's good.
The bruised, sullen woman in the picture, arrested for theft in 2005, stares into the camera with undisguised hostility. Today the 43-year-old mother of two flashes a smile brighter than her gold earrings.
"I was in and out of jail, the penitentary, I was beat up," she said Thursday. "People used to hide when they'd see me. Now I get phone calls to go out and do service work for others."
Brown is one of 283 active members of the Women of Power Alumni Association, an independent non-profit organization of female ex-offenders who are setting their lives straight. They all carry their jail IDs as reminders of how far they have come.
The women credit their transformation to the compassion and support offered through the Cook County Sheriff's Department of Women's Justice Services. The department, founded in 1999, provides services ranging from addiction treatment and pre-natal care, to a furlough program that lets women spend nights with their families and receive counseling during the day.
But now the future of those programs is in jeopardy. In his proposed budget released this week, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger recommended eliminating the department and its $4.1 million in annual appropriations. The cut is part of Stroger's effort to rein in a $500 million county budget deficit without raising taxes.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Sally Daly said the sheriff intends to "make a case [to Stroger] that this program is very important." However, the department's Web site now includes an announcement that "all programs offered" by DWJS "will cease to exist as of March 1, 2007."
Stroger's spokesman Steve Mayberry said that the department, though "laudable," had been identified by the budget committee as one with personnel who could be better used at the jail.
"We all share one common goal," he added, "and that is to protect the taxpayers in this county from higher taxes."
The news has dismayed advocates for women prisoners, who point out that the number of women incarcerated at Cook County Jail has skyrocketed from 8,557 in 1991 to 13,551 last year.
Debbie Ryan, a spokeswoman for the department, said DWJS served nearly 2,200 women in 2006.
"There's a number of initiatives [the department has] been crucial at developing," said Patricia O'Brien, an associate professor at University of Illinois-Chicago who studies female offenders. "They've been good at sensitizing the sheriff's department and correction officers about the unique issues faced by women detainees."
Women of Power members echoed O'Brien, describing a department with a radically different philosophy about corrections.
"In Division 3 and Division 4 [where women are housed at the jail], you get officers who think everyone over there is the scum of the earth," said Marnice Gaston, 30. "They got officers here [at DWJS] who will go and check in on your kids. These officers -- this is a new breed."
The department's initiatives may also have contributed to slower growth in the female prisoner population at Cook County. Since the department's inception, the number of women in the jail has held relatively steady near 15,000 and actually dropped almost 10 percent since 2004. Though O'Brien cautioned that no clear connection has been found between the two events, she added, "I don't think it's so coincidental that there has been some flattening of those numbers."
Lisa Cunningham, Women of Power's president, faced five to 10 years in prison when she was arrested in 2004 for theft. Her photo, too, is a portrait of desperation, light years from the well-dressed, elegant woman she has become.
She was addicted to drugs -- "all of them," she said -- and feared she would lose her three children to social services. Instead she was offered a spot in the department's Female Furlough Program. It enabled her to take care of her family while getting daily supervision.
"I was on Female Furlough for seven months, and they were watching me the whole time," she said. That kind of support gave her the encouragement and discipline to turn her life around, she said.
Cunningham says the women selected for DWJS programming need to meet certain criteria: They have to be non-violent offenders issued an "I-bond" by their sentencing judge, which allows them to be released on their own recognizance while they await a court date. They are then chosen by department staffbased on their willingness to work toward self-improvement.
"We do change through this process," Cunningham said. "We learn to become self-sufficient."
Other members said the examples set by Cunningham and the group's vice president Marian Hatcher, also a recovering addict, have inspired them in their own efforts to stay clean and rejoin society.
But the threat to the department that has nurtured them has the women furious. Cunningham vowed to fight "tooth and nail" to keep the department intact.
Joanne Gillespie, 41, voiced the group's frustration.
"I'm seeing women becoming great moms here--I'm watching it in the furlough program," she said. "We're in corrections, and we're correcting ourselves. And you're going to take that away?"
"That's a crime."
Charles O'Toole is a reporter for the Medill News Service.


Recent Headlines

Cook County Board Approves Planning for Progress Strategic Plan
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Office of the Cook County Board President

Dart: Concealed Carry Law Fell Short On Review Process
Monday, January 19, 2015
CBS Chicago

New stats: United Center couldn't seat all Cook County residents with concealed-carry permits
Friday, January 16, 2015
Chicago Sun-Times

Bird Conservation Network: 2014, the Year in Review
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Land Bank seeks director to succeed Brian White
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle details 2nd-term plans for Cook County
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Chicago Tribune

County Clerk Lauds Signing Of Voter Rights Bill
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Journal Online

Cook County forest preserves get new look thanks to amateur photographer
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Chicago Tribune

Cook County tackles its 'paper problem' to free up storage
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Belleville News-Democrat

Reserve Your Cook County Picnic Grove for 2015 Dates
Friday, January 02, 2015
Oak Park Patch

County, Chicago Architecture Foundation partner to address County Hospital future
Friday, January 02, 2015
Gazette Chicago

2015 PERMITS OPENING DAY
Friday, January 02, 2015
Special to suffredin.org

How to apply for Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation scholarship
Friday, January 02, 2015
Daily Herald

Cook County cameras-in-court program starts Monday
Friday, January 02, 2015
WLS ABC Channel 7

Final Order in the Cook County Non-Titled Personal Property Use Tax Litigation Spells Out Standards for County To Process Claims for Refund
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
JD Supra Business Advisor

Major Habitat Resoration to Begin at Dam #1 Near Wheeling
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Special to suffredin.org

Daley Center civil juries in a nutshell
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Judge clears path for inmate to sue sheriff over hospital bed shackling
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Sheriff Dart: It's time to stop packing the jail
Monday, December 22, 2014
Chicago Reader

Report analyzes Nov. 4 election in Cook County
Friday, December 19, 2014
Daily Herald

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP