End Money Bail

Legislation

The state legislature has the power to end the use of money bond in Illinois through legislation. In 2017 and 2018, CCBF worked with our partners in the Coalition to End Money Bond to support the Equal Justice for All Act, sponsored by Christian Mitchell. The bill served as the gold standard for bond reform legislation by completely eliminating the role of money and ensuring that more people were released pretrial. While bail reform did pass the Illinois legislature in 2017, it was not transformative in Cook County. The Bail Reform Act of 2017 did not have an impact on use of money bond or pretrial incarceration, though it did make the important change of guaranteeing representation during bail hearings across Illinois. For a full exploration of the Act’s impact and limitations, see this analysis from our Coalition partner Chicago Appleseed.

Lawsuits

A binding court order instructing courts in Cook County to stop jailing people only on the basis that they cannot afford to pay a money bond is one of the our best pathways to victory. A court decision declaring wealth-based jailing to be unconstitutional would give defense attorneys the ability to challenge unaffordable bonds in court and provide precedent for similar challenges in other jurisdictions. In 2016, CCBF referred two plaintiffs for a class-action lawsuit filed by Civil Rights Corps, Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center, and Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick, & Dym, Ltd. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of their pretrial incarceration based only on inability to pay money bond in Cook County. Though the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed on procedural grounds in 2017, it did pressure Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans to issue General Order 18.8A. This local court rule instructs judges to set money bonds only in amounts that people can afford to pay, thus facilitating their pretrial release. While the order directly led to the number of people incarcerated in Cook County dropping by more than 1,400 people in three months, many judges are still disregarding the order and thousands remain locked up in Cook County Jail on unaffordable money bonds over one year after the order took effect. CCBF continues to work with the original litigation team and our partner community organizations to explore opportunities for impact litigation on behalf of people incarcerated on money bond in the state of Illinois.

Supreme Court

In December 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois formed a commission to investigate the state’s pretrial practices. The commission is made up of system stakeholders and policymakers from across Illinois and will release its final report with findings and recommendations for reform in December 2019. Previously, CCBF and our partners submitted a letter to the Supreme Court supporting a Supreme Court Rule that would limit money bonds to amounts immediately payable, thus eliminating wealth-based pretrial incarceration in Illinois. CCBF believes that the commission will find the state’s money bond system to be unconstitutional, as other legal scholars have. CCBF and our partners in the Coalition to End Money Bond continue to organize people across the state to ensure that permanent and transformative bail reform is adopted.

Reports

Since 2013, the number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail has dropped by 44%, but the Sheriff’s budget is 28% higher. We must divest from incarceration and invest in our communities.

DOWNLOAD PDF

A report by the Coalition to End Money Bond on the inconsistent implementation of a court order that was supposed to end wealth-based pretrial incarceration in Cook County.

DOWNLOAD PDF

Learn more about how punitive pretrial conditions are harming our communities and not helping people come back to court.

DOWNLOAD PDF

An in-depth look at the initial implementation of major bond reform in Cook County through a community courtwatching initiative by the Coalition to End Money Bond.

DOWNLOAD PDF

Explore our first year in operation.

DOWNLOAD PDF

Explore our second year in operation.

DOWNLOAD PDF

Explore our third year in operation.

DOWNLOAD PDF

Videos

About CCBF

The Fight to End Money Bail in Cook County

The Rally To End Money Bail

Seeds – Rally to End Money Bail

Punishment Is Not a “Service”: The Injustice of Pretrial Conditions in Cook County

Press Featuring CCBF

“You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but they treat everyone guilty until proven innocent,” Tyler Smith, a 21-year-old Chicago resident bonded out by the CCBF.

TRUTHOUT | National Movement Hopes to Help Hundreds of Thousands Jailed Because They Can’t Afford Bail

“Most of the people bonded out by CCBF, like Wolf, are charged with felonies, and most of the felonies are violent charges, Grace says: “It’s important to differentiate between being charged with a crime and being a threat to society. We’re not interested in creating a deserving and undeserving category, or throwing the vast majority of people under the bus to get a small percentage of people out.”

Chicago Magazine | The People Who Bailed Out the King

“The bond fund report recommends focusing on helping defendants get to court, by providing bus passes or child care and scheduling court dates around people’s work schedules. Electronic monitoring and curfews should only be used as a last resort. “We’re looking for a shift,” Suchan said, “away from a punitive, punishment-based model to one that’s actually supportive, that helps people get to court, that helps them to succeed and to get through the process.”

The Chicago Reporter | Bond Court Reforms May Lead to More Punitive Pretrial Conditions

Below, you can find a sample of some of the stories media outlets have published about the bond fund.

Stories We’ve Published

Resources

Research

Additional Reading

Other Bond Funds

Our Past Campaigns

The bond fund has raised money for a number of specific goals, in addition to our everyday work. You can see the pages for past campaigns below.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.