CCBF Pays Bond for Leonard

On March 2nd, CCBF posted $3,000 in bond to free Leonard from house arrest with electronic monitoring. Leonard was born in Chicago and has lived in Chicago nearly his whole life. He is close to his five siblings and is looking forward to celebrating his dad’s 83rd birthday soon. Leonard was incarcerated in his own home under electronic monitoring (EM) for nine months before CCBF posted the $3,000 necessary for the Sheriff to remove his ankle shackle.

Leonard describes those nine months as depressing and stressful: “Being on EM, not being able to go about my daily functions, it was depressing I will say that. I couldn’t find employment or spend time with family. I missed Mother’s Day, birthdays, graduations, and when I would call to get permission for movement from the Sheriff’s Office, I wouldn’t get it.”

He continues, “It’s like a facade…the Sheriff’s office didn’t tell me how it actually is. I couldn’t get the jobs even though I had job offers. That was the most depressing part of it, that I couldn’t maintain employment.”

Leonard had what is called an “EMI” or I-EM” bond in Cook County, which is a bond where someone is incarcerated via electronic monitoring until they can pay a money bond to be released. Leonard described the day he was released from Cook County Jail onto EM as extremely stressful and very long. At around 8:00 am, Leonard described being “herded like cows” into Cook County Jail “bullpens.” After filling out some paperwork, being shuffled around and forced to sit and wait, he was finally put in a Sheriff’s van with about 15-20 other people. Leonard did not arrive at the apartment he would be released to until around 1:30 am, more than 17 hours after the process started.

Being on EM was difficult, and Leonard was often forced to rely on his family for support. They all provided a strong social support system while he was on EM and regularly helped him get groceries and other necessities. Leonard says that “A lot of people had to help me out. I felt useless and miserable, it felt like I was in the County.” Other people on EM that CCBF has supported do not have family members to bring them groceries or other necessary items like medicine. It is often unclear how they are supposed to provide for themselves given EM’s restrictions.

Before he was arrested, Leonard worked in maintenance. He was trying to find similar employment while on EM, but getting permission from the Sheriff’s Office to attend interviews was difficult. The process for requesting movement to attend an interview required potential employers fax or email a formal letter to the Sheriff’s Office 2 to 3 days in advance explaining that an interview was being scheduled. Not many employers were responsive to this need, and Leonard ended up losing many potential employment opportunities as a result. Some employers explicitly told Leonard that they didn’t want to have to deal with Sheriff’s Officers showing up at the workplace unannounced, which could happen during the interview or any future shift if he was hired. The employers also did not understand that Leonard was on EM pretrial and that he had not yet been convicted of anything.

Electronic monitoring is often seen as an alternative to being incarcerated at Cook County Jail. Leonard, however, found it to be nearly as restrictive as being in the jail: “EM prevented me from doing my everyday activities. Even though they tell you that you can maintain employment, that you can go grocery shopping, or see your family, it’s not true.”

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