Communities Call on Cook County Commissioners to Defund the Cook County Jail
In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movements call to defund the police and invest money in Black and Brown communities, people are coming together this morning for a car caravan and rally outside Cook County Jail urging Cook County Commissioners to take money out of the Cook County Jail and invest in housing, mental health services and other things that actually make communities safer.
“Every year, thousands of people are incarcerated in Cook County Jail only because they can’t afford to pay a money bond. Wealth-based pretrial incarceration is unacceptable in Cook County. We must continue to reduce the number of people in Cook County Jail and reduce the Cook County Jail’s budget accordingly. It is time for Cook County to divest from the jail and invest in our communities,” said Malik Alim, Campaign Coordinator for Chicago Community Bond Fund.
This rally coincides with the introduction of the “Justice for Black Lives” resolution by Commissioner Brandon Johnson, broadly supporting our demands. “There is no correlation between the money spent on the criminal justice system and the safety of our residents. In fact, as spending on police and incarceration has gone up over the last decade, Black and Brown people actually feel less safe,” Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson said. “It’s past time to redirect the hundreds of millions of dollars we spend on the failed, racist system of policing and criminalization into services and programs that will actually promote and protect the health and welfare of our communities.”
Each year, Cook County spends more than $600 million supporting a racist system of policing and incarceration through the Cook County Sheriff’s budget, which includes sheriff’s police, the Cook County Jail, and more. Although Although the number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail has gone down by more than 50% since 2013, the budget for the jail has actually increased by 26%. If the jail budget had gone down proportionally to the number of people locked up, we would have $117 million more for other public services in Cook County.
“Most crime and violence happens because people don’t have good paying jobs and other resources that allow them to support their families,” says Pastor Erik Christensen, a leader with The People’s Lobby. “Racist economic policies like refusing to lend money to Black homebuyers and business owners and putting jobs in white communities has left Black and Brown communities struggling to survive. Jail is not the solution. Investment in Black and Brown communities is what we need.”
A just future is one in which we spend our resources on the things that actually create community health and safety. Instead of pouring more and more money each year into violent and racist policing and incarceration, we must invest it in housing, health care, mental health services, living wage jobs, public transportation, and restorative justice.
This action is being organized by SOUL – Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, The People’s Lobby, National Nurses United, and Chicago Community Bond Fund with the endorsement of Black Lives Matter Chicago, Circles & Ciphers, Chicago Torture Justice Center, Community Renewal Society, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, GoodKids MadCity, A Just Harvest, the #LetUsBreathe Collective, Free Write Sound & Vision, Love & Protect, Black Eutopia, Osiris Khepera, Community Cave, The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, & AirGo.
Follow #DefundCCJ on Twitter to follow along.