Milestone achieved, more work lies ahead in criminal justice reform
Nearly nowhere is the need for criminal justice reform felt so greatly as in Cook County, home of the nation's second largest single site jail. The thousands of residents detained at the jail daily risk losing their jobs or being expelled from school---before their cases have gone to trial. The price for taxpayers is also high: At $143 per inmate per day, Cook County Jail costs more than $300 million annually.
Recognizing these human and financial costs, in 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court commissioned an audit to look into how to decrease the jail population. The audit report detailed 40 recommendations to release more low-risk detainees without endangering community safety. To implement these recommendations, the Court has relied on Civic Consulting Alliance, our pro bono partners, and others for ongoing support since 2014. Since then the average daily jail population has gone down by 20%.
Earlier this month, the Illinois Supreme Court announced that all 40 recommendations from the audit have been completed. "Thanks to the work of Civic Consulting Alliance and our region's criminal justice stakeholders, we have addressed all 40 audit recommendations and achieved a vital development in our ongoing work to improve the justice system in Cook County and Illinois," noted Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.
While more work remains to enhance the administration of justice in our region, the completion of the audit's recommendations represents an important milestone and lays the foundation for greater collaboration among criminal justice stakeholders for future reforms.
Thanks to the work of Civic Consulting Alliance and our region's criminal justice stakeholders, we have addressed all 40 audit recommendations.
Justice Anne Burke
Illinois Supreme Court