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:  
   
 
 

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.

   
  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.
   
     
     
     



Illinois Supreme Court rips Cook system

Sunday, March 23, 2014
Chicago Tribune
by Cynthia Dizikes & Todd Lightly

The Illinois Supreme Court released a critical and unprecedented report Friday into how Cook County’s court system handles criminal suspects, pointing to a lack of leadership and basic understanding of certain court services that has contributed to defendants unnecessarily awaiting trial behind bars.

The audit comes as Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans has fallen under increased scrutiny over how he has managed of one of the largest court systems in the country.

The review focused on pretrial services — a unit within the court’s adult probation department. The unit was originally designed, in part, to ease jail overcrowding by helping judges decide whether defendants should be kept in custody or released while their criminal cases move through the courts.

Chicago police take 65 to 100 defendants every day to prisoner lock up for bond court at the county’s criminal court building. Once there, about 10 pretrial officers have several hours to screen and interview the defendants, gathering information on their criminal history, mental health and living arrangements.

The bond court judge, who must consider the likelihood that the defendant will show up for future court hearings or get rearrested if released from custody, is supposed to use that report to help determine bail.

The audit, however, found that time constraints, access to information and basic training, among other issues, often compromised the pretrial reports and many judges view them as “too limited, and largely unverified.”

“The reliance upon the work of pretrial services is generally dismissed or minimized because of a lack of confidence in the credibility,” the report stated.

As a result, some defendants who could otherwise have been released from jail remain in custody, according to data provided in the audit.

In a statement, Evans said he already has initiated some changes in pretrial services, defended his overseeing of the department and blamed some of the problems on staff cuts and lack of money.
The number of pretrial staff positions has fallen from 179 in 1990 to 104, according to the audit, which noted that pretrial assessed about 25,000 defendants in 2013.

“Until adequate resources are committed to a pretrial services program, the program will always be imperfect,” Evans’ statement read.

The launch of the audit last year came amid growing tensions between Evans and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart over jail overcrowding and the backlog of criminal cases.

In September, Preckwinkle, who has argued that Evans and the judges he oversees haven’t done enough to make sure nonviolent offenders don’t clog the jail, wrote to the Supreme Court requesting that a judge outside Cook County be appointed to expedite delayed criminal cases.

Evans, however, has blamed Preckwinkle and the County Board, saying commissioners have stymied funding for hiring and that Dart, who runs the jail, could place more defendants on electronic monitoring.

Preckwinkle has challenged whether more funding is needed, and Friday praised the audit.

“This is about more than just a lack of leadership,” Preckwinkle said. “It is about the men and women who suffer when the system is allowed to fail.”

The Sheriff’s office also applauded the audit and the Supreme Court’s plan to appoint an administrator to oversee its implementation.“We are very encouraged,” said Cara Smith, executive director of the county jail. “We can go nowhere but up.” 

The Supreme Court in September ordered the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts to conduct the audit after delaying Evans’ request for funding to hire 15 additional pretrial employees.

The 64-page report makes 40 recommended changes, including better sharing of information, such as defendant criminal histories; improved training of both judges and pretrial officers; and appointing a specific person within the adult probation department to head pretrial services. It states that additional staff would not be warranted unless the proposed changes are implemented.

On Monday, Evans removed the longtime head of the department, Jesus Reyes, following a Tribune investigation in December, which found that the department has lost track of hundreds of convicts and overlooked new crimes committed by offenders, some of whom went on to rape or kill while under the court's watch.

Reyes could not immediately be reached for comment about the report.



Recent Headlines

Dart warns of 'dramatic increase' in accused gun offenders released on electronic monitors
Friday, February 23, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-soda tax PAC jumps in Cook County Board races
Monday, February 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Wilmette minimum wage working group surveys businesses, will survey residents
Monday, February 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Circuit clerk gets stay on e-filing order
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Hundreds gather at Bridgeport church for Cmdr. Paul Bauer's wake
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dart goes to court in effort to find person accusing him of domestic violence
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Study says property tax system favors rich
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Property Tax System ‘More Regressive’ in Cook County, Report Finds
Friday, February 16, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

VIDEO: Cook County Jail detainees applaud CPD commander’s alleged killer
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Blockbuster report: How Cook County tax system shafts the little guy
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Order over lawsuits in Dorothy Brown’s office put on hold by appeals court
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Dorothy Brown can't 'end-run' First Amendment, judge says in denying delay
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County prosecutors toss more convictions tainted by corrupt ex-Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Handwritten documents, Manila folders, carbon paper — welcome to Cook County criminal court
Monday, February 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County Commissioners missed over a third of Forest Preserve meetings
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Jail guards lock down sweet union contract—despite sour budget mess
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Running for judge, Dorothy Brown’s inspector general accepts donation from bos
Friday, February 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook Co. President Urges Trump To Stop ICE Arrests In Courthouses
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Beverly Patch

Voting in Jail? New Bill Seeks to Expand Ballot Access for Detainees
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

COOK COUNTY BOARD COMMISSIONER PROPOSES HEARING ON POLICE OVERSIGHT
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WBEZ BGA

all news items

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