Cook County Jail launches new risk assessment tool

Pro Bono Partners

A.T. Kearney
Mayer Brown

Cook County Jail launches new risk assessment tool

Nearly three-fourths of the men and women in Cook County Jail are behind bars for nonviolent crimes. Many could be safely released, but they remain in detention because they can't afford to post bond. The human cost of this overreliance on jail to hold people who have not been convicted is high: while detainees wait for trial, they may lose their housing, jobs, or school enrollment. The cost to taxpayers is also high: at $143 per inmate per day, Cook County Jail--the nation's second-largest single-site jail--costs Illinoisans more than $300 million annually.

Building off pro-bono support from A.T. Kearney and Mayer Brown, Civic Consulting Alliance is working with the Illinois Supreme Court, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, and Cook County criminal justice stakeholders to increase the release of low-risk detainees while improving community safety. The effort helped to achieve a milestone this past spring, when the general population of Cook County Jail fell below 8,000 for the first time since 1991.

On July 1, Civic Consulting Alliance helped Cook County Jail reach another important milestone with the implementation of a new Public Safety Assessment-Court (PSA-Court) tool. This tool provides pretrial service officers and judges an evidence-based assessment to predict the risk of a detainee committing another crime or failing to appear for his or her court date. PSA-Court, based on each individual's criminal history, is a critical component of a model bond court in Cook County.

The recent reduction in Cook County's jail population is an early sign of what can happen when leaders come to the table and work together.

Justice Anne Burke

Illinois Supreme Court