John Kass Fundamentally Misunderstands the Bond System
John Kass’ latest column about a robbery in Lincoln Park and the $100 money bond paid by the accused young person is the latest media piece to fundamentally misunderstand the bond system. A bond decision is not punishment. By framing the question of a $100 money bond as “all the victim is worth” in the eyes of the court, Kass equates the young man’s bond with the consequence he should face should he be found guilty. A criminal case does not end with a bond decision. To be clear, this young man in question, who stole a phone without threat of a gun or other weapon, faces a potential sentence of 3-7 years in prison if convicted.
After all, the standard for punishing people in the United States is a conviction and not a mere arrest, despite CPD Superintendent Johnson and Mayor Lightfoot’s recent arguments suggesting that large numbers of people should remain in jail while awaiting trial. In America, people are supposed to have the right to trial by jury and be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
For too long, that has not been the case in Cook County or across Illinois, as thousands of people are jailed while still awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to pay a money bond. Pretrial reforms in Cook County are correcting a fundamentally unfair system that results in wrongful convictions, increased racial disparities, more people going to prison, and even more crime. Studies show that jailing people pretrial increases their likelihood of arrest in the future. If we want the young man in this case—for whom this is his first arrest—to succeed and avoid future court involvement, the best way to accomplish that is by releasing him pretrial and supporting him in the community.
We all want to live in safe, thriving communities, and we cannot achieve that goal by undermining the rights of people in the criminal courts.
You can read Kass’ article here: https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/john-kass/ct-chicago-crime-20190816-3t4jiykg4zff5b2hyfxxxulhla-story.html