Phone: (312) 744-3300
CALL THE COOK COUNTY STATE’S ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, SHERIFF AND CHIEF JUDGE AND DEMAND THEY DECARCERATE IN THE NAME OF PUBLIC HEALTH!
State’s Attorney Office
Phone: (312) 603-1880
“Hi, my name is ______ and I live in _________. I’m calling to demand that the Cook County State’s Attorney Office take steps to dramatically lower the number of people in jail in response to COVID-19. This means declining to prosecute most cases, not filing new violations of bond or probation conditions, and instructing line prosecutors to support release of people currently detained pretrial in Cook County Jail in bond hearings.”
Phone: (312) 603-6444
“Hi, my name is ______ and I live in _________. I’m calling to demand that the Cook County Sheriff’s Office take steps to dramatically lower the number of people in jail in response to COVID-19 and ensure that anyone in his custody is able to practice social distancing.”
Office of the Chief Judge
Phone: (312) 603-6000
“Hi, my name is ______ and I live in _________. I’m calling to demand that the Cook County Chief Judge take steps to dramatically lower the number of people in jail in response to COVID-19. This means facilitating bond review hearings for people currently in jail and instructing judges not to admit new people to the jail.”
If they tell you they can’t help:
“We are in a moment of crisis and need all county officials to do everything in their power to keep people safe. Incarcerated people are among the most vulnerable during this pandemic, we need you to do everything in your power to meet these demands, whether that’s taking unprecedented action or working with other county stakeholders.”
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
People incarcerated in jail are one of the populations most vulnerable to coronavirus and COVID-19, and their protection warrants special emergency action. Jails and prisons are known to quickly spread contagious diseases. Incarcerated people have an inherently limited ability to fight the spread of infectious disease since they are confined in close quarters and unable to avoid contact with people who may have been exposed. Responses such as lock downs, placing people in solitary confinement and limiting access to visits from loved ones are punitive and ineffective responses to outbreaks. Importantly, we know that isolation further endangers people and limiting visitation also has adverse effects.
The only acceptable response to the threat of COVID-19 is decarceration. Today there are more than 5,500 people incarcerated in Cook County Jail (CCJ). Almost all of them are still awaiting trial and thus presumed innocent under the law. There are an additional 2,400 people incarcerated in their homes 24/7 under the Sheriff’s electronic monitoring (EM). In general, people on Sheriff’s EM are unable to leave their homes to go grocery shopping or buy other supplies or to attend medical appointments without hard-to-obtain written appointment confirmations. The ongoing incarceration of all these people is an unacceptable risk to every incarcerated individual as well as public health.