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Report on Bond Reform, Community Groups Prepare for the Rally to #EndMoneyBail

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On Sept. 18, the Coalition to End Money Bond will release a report evaluating the implementation of General Order 18.8A one year after it went into effect. This evening, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, community groups from across Chicago will gather in the Loop to prepare art for a Sept. 18 Rally to #EndMoneyBaill from 5:30pm-8:00pm.

General Order 18.8A, issued by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans on Sept. 18, 2017, instructs judges to impose money bond only as a last resort and to set all money bonds in amounts people can afford to pay. The report's key finding is that after the initial drop in the population of Cook County Jail during the first three months after the Order went into effect, a lack of continued adherence to the Order has largely ended this progress.

"More than 2,700 people are currently incarcerated in Cook County Jail solely because they can't afford to pay their money bond. This is in direct violation of the Order. General Order 18.8A gave Cook County the opportunity to lead the nation in bail reform, but our report documents how judges have chosen instead to continue the unconstitutional practice of jailing people simply because they're poor," said Sharlyn Grace, Co-Executive Director of Chicago Community Bond Fund.

The Order intended to "ensure no defendant is held in custody prior to trial solely because the defendant cannot afford to post bail." The Coalition finds that the Order has fallen short of achieving this purpose, in spite of a promising start last fall. In the first month after the Order went into effect, the number of people receiving money bonds was reduced by more than half, and the number of people being released on their own recognizance doubled. The number of people incarcerated in Cook County dropped by about 1,400 in the first three months.

The Coalition's analysis of more recent data collected through courtwatching and Freedom of Information Act requests, however, shows that this progress has slowed dramatically as judges return to their pre-Order practices.

"The use of money bond is steadily approaching pre-Order levels, and the number of money bonds that were set higher than defendants indicated they could pay during their bond hearings nearly tripled from November 2017 to June 2018. As we approach the one year anniversary of the General Order, judges are backsliding," said Matthew McLoughlin, Director of Programs, Chicago Community Bond Fund.

The Order has also all but stopped impacting the number of people in Cook County Jail. As a result of the rise in unaffordable money bonds, combined with a fourfold increase in the rate at which people are detained without bond, the number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail pretrial has remained roughly the same since January 2018: 6,100.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, the Coalition to End Money Bond will rally with over 45 organizations from across Chicago and 36 bail and bond funds from across the the United States at the Thompson Center ( 100 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601 ), from 10-11am. This rally will mark the one-year anniversary of General Order 18.8A by demanding an end to money bond and pretrial incarceration in Cook County.

—From a press release

The Coalition to End Money Bond formed in May 2016 as a group of member organizations with the shared goal of stopping the large-scale jailing of people simply because they were unable to pay a monetary bond. The Coalition is addressing bail reform and the abolition of money bond as part of its member organizations' larger efforts to achieve racial and economic justice for all residents of Cook County.

The Coalition to End Money Bond is: A Just Harvest; ACLU of Illinois; Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice; Chicago Community Bond Fund; Community Renewal Society; Illinois Justice Project; Justice and Witness Ministry of the Chicago Metropolitan Association, Illinois Conference, United Church of Christ; Nehemiah Trinity Rising; The Next Movement at Trinity United Church of Christ; The People's Lobby; The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation; and Workers Center for Racial Justice.

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