Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

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:  

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.

Sheriff, judge debate decree on county jail

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
by Brian Mackey

SPRINGFIELD — Cook County's chief judge and sheriff are facing off over who ought to be responsible for preventing overcrowding in the county jail.

Sheriff Thomas J. Dart is pushing for legislation that would shift the responsibility for releasing jail inmates and assigning them to electronic monitoring from the sheriff's office to judges.

''We believe that clerical employees and correctional officers are not the appropriate people to be making decisions about which defendants are held behind bars and which defendants are allowed to live at home while their trials are pending,'' said Bill Cunningham, a spokesman for the sheriff.

''Common sense dictates that that's a decision that a judge should make,'' Cunningham added. ''We think that if judges do make the decisions as far as who goes on electronic monitoring, it'll be a more secure program.''

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, however, contends the measure would violate a federal consent decree on jail overcrowding and is an unconstitutional infringement on a judicial function.

In a telephone interview and follow-up statement, Evans said he did not see this issue as a debate between him and the sheriff, but he identified several problems with the proposal.

The decision to grant or deny bail is a judicial function, Evans said, but the legislation would require that he coordinate with the Cook County County Board and sheriff ''to ensure that the electronic monitoring program is being utilized by the Circuit Court to relieve overcrowding at the county jail.''

That, Evans said, violates the separation of powers by effectively ''dictating'' to judges that electronic monitoring must be imposed when the jail is overcrowded.

Another point of contention is how the legislation would function with regard to a federal consent decree on overcrowding. Evans said the consent decree puts responsibility for overcrowding on the sheriff.

In 1983, less than a year after the consent decree took effect, the plaintiff class of jail inmates charged that the county still had not relieved overcrowding. The federal judge overseeing the decree ordered that ''if compliance with the order requires a reduction in inmate population … and if no Illinois state court of competent jurisdiction has then specified a different method of selecting the persons to be released to accomplish such reduction, Sheriff Elrod and Director Hardiman are directed to release on their own recognizance the persons held in default of the lowest amount of bail, and among persons held on the same amount of bail the ones who have been confined for the longest time.'' Duran v. Elrod, 713 F.2d 292 (7th Cir. 1984).

Since no courts have specified another method for relieving overcrowding, Evans contends, the sheriff is still responsible and shifting the burden to the courts would violate the decree.

''Nothing could be further from the truth,'' Cunningham said, noting that the consent decree is silent on electronic monitoring.

Electronic monitoring was introduced in Cook County in response to public pressure over the increasing use of sheriff's I-bonds, Cunningham said, which peaked in 1987 when 35,000 of 70,000 people booked at the jail were released because of overcrowding.

''At no time did the federal judge step up and say, 'We're going to create electronic monitoring and the sheriff is going to decide,' '' Cunningham said of the high-tech form of house arrest.

Malcolm C. Young, executive director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, a prison watchdog group, said more inmates might be able to qualify for electronic monitoring through the adversarial process of a bond hearing.

''If the sheriff can relatively successfully release inmates based upon the information available to the sheriff, which is relatively incomplete, we have often thought that you could get more people released and probably keep someone in who shouldn't be released, if you use a defense attorney and prosecutor and pretrial services,'' Young said.

The association is the federally appointed monitor of the consent decree.

Young, however, said he was not sure legislation was the way to go — he would rather the sheriff and courts agree to a more complete review of the bond process that would improve the system as a whole.

The sponsor of House Bill 2749, Rep. John D'Amico, D-Chicago, said he expects to call the legislation for a vote this week.

Legislation may be found on the General Assembly's Web site at

Recent Headlines

Unsung Heroine Award to Emily Guthrie
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Evanston Roundtable

In a twist, Cook County wins $9 million verdict tied to jail strip-search settlement
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Chicago Tribune

15 got promotions from Court Clerk Dorothy Brown within 6 months of donations
Friday, March 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Assessor Berrios loses court fight to overturn Cook County's limits on campaign donations
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

$70 million and counting? Cook County taxpayers face massive tab for sheriff board firings
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Commentary: Dart's misguided approach to jail reform
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Commissioners: Shelve this Cook County job killer
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County alerting investors, delinquent property taxpayers of coming tax sale
Friday, March 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Agnes Lattimer, who became Cook County Hospital medical director and campaigned against lead poisoning, dies
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Emily Williams Guthrie Honored as 2018 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Special to

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart responds to a lawsuit alleging he’s holding people beyond their constitutional right
Thursday, March 01, 2018
WGN Radio

Extension is scratched, deadline for Cook County property tax online payments remains Thursday night
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Laid-off Cook County Jail commanders sue Sheriff Dart, allege retaliation over union effort
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

‘Going rate’ for job in Dorothy Brown’s office? $10K, records allege
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Going rate' to buy a job in Dorothy Brown's office? $10,000, employee tells feds
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Jailed woman sues Sheriff Dart over delayed release into electronic monitoring
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Assessor Berrios goes to court to keep property tax lawyers' campaign contributions flowing
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Pay the bagman $10,000 to work for Dorothy Brown?
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Pappas: Women who work for me 'love' wearing Cook County smocks that the men don't have to wear
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Column: Kim Foxx on bond reform, going after violent criminals and the 'reckoning' of #MeToo
Monday, February 26, 2018
Daily Southtown

all news items

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