Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

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

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  The first blood bank in the world was established at Cook County Hospital by Dr. Bernard Fantus in 1937.
   
     
     
     



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

Free Radioactive Radon Test Kits From Cook County
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Toni Preckwinkle and county watchdog at odds over political travel reimbursements
Friday, January 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County judges — one cleared of gun charge, one reassigned for anger management — to return to bench at criminal court
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

It's been a bad decade for property taxes
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Bond court reform has not put more violent offenders back on the street
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Glenview pushes minimum wage, paid sick leave discussion to next week
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

How Fritz Kaegi Plans to Transform the Cook County Assessor’s Office
Friday, January 04, 2019
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Cook County Health recognizes Cervical Health Awareness Month
Friday, January 04, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

2 neighborhood courthouses close: 'You’re discouraging citizens from going to court'
Friday, January 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Campaign money tied to Ald. Edward Burke’s alleged extortion scheme was intended for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, sources say
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County, parking operators in dispute over possibly millions in back taxes that could leave consumers pinched
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle pursues back taxes from parking lot operators
Wednesday, January 02, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

30K Cook County homeowners to get $8.3M in automatic property tax refunds
Monday, December 31, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

2019 preview: Glenview to consider minimum wage
Monday, December 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

'If I can do this, you can do this': Cook County judges inspire students of similar backgrounds
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

The Price Tag Of Freedom For Hundreds Of Non-Violent Cook County Inmates Is Less Than $2,000
Thursday, December 27, 2018
CBS Chicago

Give the Gift of Nature
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Why those 19 inmates were in Cook County Jail
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Medical examiner slow to review cases of fired pathologist who missed a murder
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County may unplug regional gang database that began in Northwest Indiana
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Northwest Indiana Times

all news items

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