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Sneed exclusive: Christmas gift: Sheriff Dart releasing 47 inmates

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Chicago Sun-Times
by Michael Sneed

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart (pictured in May 2015) is releasing 47 nonviolent inmates to reunite them with their families by Christmas Eve. | Brian Jackson/For the Sun Times

It’s a get out of jail card. And it’s just in time for Christmas.

Sneed has learned that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is releasing 47 inmates from Cook County Jail and uniting them with their families by Christmas Eve.

“It’s a compassionate release of dozens of nonviolent inmates awaiting trial or adjudication of their charges,” a top Dart source said.

• Stat chat: The inmates range in age from 20 to 62; the longest tenured inmate has been jailed since Oct. 14. It costs $143 per day on average to incarcerate someone at Cook County Jail.

“Sheriff Dart’s mission is to expose and address unjust incarceration in Cook County,” according to the source.

• The backshot: Sneed is told that Dart directed his staff to identify a subset of the 8,500-person Cook County Jail population who could be released in time for Christmas without causing a danger to the community.

• The upshot: The inmate analysis produced a list of 47 people charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor; had no background of violence; needed less than $1,000 to post bail; and had been housed in a minimum security tier of Cook County Jail.

• The buckshot: The most common charges among the compassionate releases: retail theft, criminal trespassing and driving on a suspended license.

“Sheriff Dart brought the list to the attention of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s Office, which agreed to either expedite the respective cases or hold special bond reduction hearings in order to discharge the remaining inmates prior to Christmas,” the source added.

“Those released to electronic monitoring or on their own recognizance will still need to appear for court hearings until the disposition of their cases,” the source said.

“The state’s attorney’s office was very accommodating,” the source added.

"We couldn’t have been more pleased with how responsive they were to the idea and onboard with the mission.”


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