In January 2018, Andreiana was visiting her partner’s home when he attacked her. After taking action to defend herself, one of her partner’s relatives called the police. Ultimately, police took Andreiana into custody, punishing her for choosing survival. Andreiana was scared and confused as she entered bond court. At 18 years old with a five-year-old child completely dependent on her, Andreiana was terrified at the prospect that she might not return home to her son.
Prior to her arrest, Andreiana was finishing her senior year of high school and working a part-time job on the night shift. Every day, she went to school from 8am-3pm and then worked from 11pm until 5am. She lived with her mother and two brothers in Section 8 housing. She paid all of her and her son’s expenses with the wages from her part-time job and a LINK card. When the judge asked her how much she could afford to pay toward her bail, she told him $100. After hearing Andreiana’s answer, the judge still set her bond at $15,000, meaning she needed $1,500 to walk.
General Order 18.8A states that Cook County judges are not supposed to set a money bond higher than a person can afford to pay. Anytime a judge knowingly does so, they are effectively sentencing that person to jail time while they are still presumed innocent. In this case, the judge’s decision meant that Andreiana would spend the next four months incarcerated in Cook County Jail.
Jail was a horrible experience. Andreiana was kept inside a freezing cell for 23 hours a day. While inside the jail, she was not given adequate sanitary napkins. She was unable to purchase additional ones without money on her books. Being separated from her family, especially her son, was the worst part of her experience in the jail. Her aunt visited, but Andreiana requested that her aunt did not bring her son as she did not want him to have to see his mother in Cook County Jail. After four months inside, a case worker at the jail mentioned the Chicago Community Bond Fund to Andreiana. She asked her family to contact CCBF, and Andreiana was freed shortly thereafter.
While Andreiana was thrilled to come home, the experience was challenging in ways that she had not expected. Initially, her son refused to hug her. It took a little while for him to warm back up to his mother. Her son was mad at Andreiana for her absence he couldn’t understand that she had not abandoned him. He cried whenever she tried to talk to him over the phone during her incarceration. It also took her a long time to get her feet back on the ground economically; it was eight months before Andreiana was able to secure a new job.
In addition to juggling, parenting, school, a part-time job, and fighting for her freedom, Andreiana was given GPS monitoring as a condition of her release. For the duration of her case, the GPS device tied to her leg was really tight and caused circulation problems. The device had to remain on at all times, and when it was charging, Andreiana had to remain seated next to an outlet.
A perimeter was set around the home of her former partner, and Andreiana would receive a call from the Sheriff’s Office if she ever accidentally traveled through that zone. She was threatened with jail time if she didn’t leave the zone. These conditions were particularly stressful for Andreiana because traveling to court required that she pass through the zone. Every time she went to court, Andreiana received these phone calls threatening to report her as violating the GPS restrictions, even though they knew and could tell she was heading in the direction of the courthouse. After a while, the device began to malfunction. Despite being fully charged, Andreiana received repeat calls from the Sheriff’s Office telling her to charge the device. It would take more than three stressful months before the Sheriff’s deputies came to her home to change replace the faulty equipment.
At her first court date, Andreiana’s judge told her that she would have to get a private attorney since her bond had been paid. (Some Cook County judges inappropriately use the fact that a person’s bond was paid as evidence that they are not entitled to the public defender.) This practice is absurd. Someone being bonded out doesn’t mean they can afford to use that money to pay for an attorney. In most cases, bond is being paid by family or friends of the incarcerated person, and they expect and need that money to be returned at the end of the case. This action was particularly egregious in Andreiana’s case because her bond was paid by CCBF, a non-profit whose help in no way reflected her assets. A simple inquiry into Andreiana’s personal finances by the court would have made it abundantly clear that she could not afford to pay for a private attorney and was entitled to representation by the public defender. Fortunately, CCBF was able to work with the offices of the Chief Judge and Public Defender to ensure she retained access to her public defender.
After spending six months on GPS after her four months in jail, Andreiana was able to resolve her case without having to do any additional time. She accepted a plea deal to two years of probation. It was more than a week after she accepted the plea deal before Sheriff’s deputies came to take the GPS shackle off of her ankle. Because she was able to fight her case from a place of freedom, Andreiana was able to graduate high school on time and begin to piece her life back together. She is currently working and plans to wait a year before applying to go to college.
Want to help end money bail? Join us in Springfield for a lobby day supporting the Pretrial Fairness Act on February 25th. Register here for free transportation from Chicago to Springfield: http://bit.ly/PFAlobby