General Order 18.8A: Eight Months Later

It has been eight and half months since General Order 18.8A went into effect in Cook County in September 2017. The Order instructs bond court judges to set money bonds in amounts that people can afford to pay. General Order 18.8A has potential to eliminate the use of unaffordable money bond but ineffective implementation continues to ensure that people are jailed pretrial at CCJ for months waiting for their cases to resolve simply because they can’t afford to pay their bond. From January to March, more than 500 people received unaffordable money bonds. Data released from the Office of the Chief Judge revealed that only 54% of people who were given money bonds in the same period paid those bonds and secured their release.

Community volunteers with the Coalition to End Money Bond monitored the implementation of the Order for the first few months after it took effect. Courtwatchers found a wide variance in the Order’s implementation and noted that some bond court judges continued to set unaffordable bond amounts in most of the cases before them, directly disobeying the Order. Read the entire report athttp://www.chicagoappleseed.org/courtwatchingreport2018/. Today, more than eight months after the order took effect, more than 2,500 people are still incarcerated at Cook County Jail solely because they cannot affordable to pay their money bonds. Since then, courtwatching volunteers with CCBF have continued to observe bond court and have found similar results: bond court judges continue to disobey the General Order and are still setting bonds in amounts people cannot afford.

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