CHICAGO, Sept. 14, 2023 -- On Sept. 18, the Pretrial Fairness Act will take full effect in Illinois, eliminating the use of money bond and redesigning pretrial processes to increase transparency in release and detention decisions. Cook County stands ready to implement all aspects of the Act, including the new initial appearance and detention hearing processes.
Since the Pretrial Fairness Act was signed into law in February 2021 as part of the larger SAFE-T Act, Cook County’s court system stakeholders have been engaged in an unprecedented collaborative planning process to ensure Cook County is prepared to implement the law. As Sept. 18 approaches, Cook County leaders remain united in their commitment to a successful launch of the new procedures and hearing process.
“As a result of nearly two years of thoughtful and collaborative preparation, Cook County is ready to implement the new procedures required by the Pretrial Fairness Act,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “We are immensely proud of the collaboration that has brought us here and we stand united as we move into this new phase of increased pretrial fairness. As our court system transitions to the new procedures, my administration will continue to provide resources and support to ensure our continued success.”
Cook County’s implementation planning process has centered on active participation and collaborative problem-solving. The process brought together representatives from each of the County’s criminal justice agencies to participate in consistent working groups alongside local law enforcement, advocacy groups and community representatives. Following implementation, the working groups will continue to meet to identify best practices and to ensure nuances and challenges are navigated quickly and collaboratively.
"With the elimination of cash bail, Cook County stands as a beacon of justice where decisions are made on safety, not dollars. Together, with all our agencies and community stakeholders, we are confident in the successful rollout and the enduring positive impact of the Pretrial Fairness Act," said Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.
“The judges and staff of the Circuit Court of Cook County are fully prepared to fairly implement the requirements of the Pretrial Fairness Act. We will work with all stakeholders, as well as with litigants and lawyers who appear before us, to follow the law and both ensure justice for the accused and promote safety in the community,” said Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans.
“As we embark on the historic implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act here in Illinois, our office is fully prepared and will continue to engage and participate in the collaborative planning process with all of our criminal justice partners to ensure there is a successful outcome. We remain committed to serving the residents of Cook County and the participants in the judicial system in an efficient, equitable, and ethical manner,” said Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Iris Y. Martinez.
Following the Illinois Supreme Court’s July 18 decision upholding the Pretrial Fairness Act, Cook County’s criminal legal system agencies actively reengaged staff in meetings, trainings and interagency court scenario walkthroughs. These efforts have helped ensure countywide preparedness for implementation by allowing court stakeholders to collaboratively troubleshoot new processes and confirm logistical details.
“The Cook County Public Defender’s Office welcomes this new day of greater pretrial fairness for the clients we represent. We are proud of the extensive interagency efforts to prepare the county’s criminal legal system for implementation of the law. Our office has created a Pretrial Division to staff Initial Appearances and Detention Hearings, and our expert criminal defense attorneys and other staff are fully trained in the law and the new processes,” said Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr.
“The full implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act does not simply end the use of money bond as a condition of pretrial release, but it initiates a more equitable pretrial process designed to be more fair, transparent and effective,” said Avik Das, Executive Director of the Justice Advisory Council. “As we transition to the implementation phase, we will continue to work closely with Cook County’s court stakeholder agencies as well as partners from the research, advocacy and system-impacted communities. We will continue to observe and improve how our system functions, to best serve the residents and communities of Cook County.”
This month, Illinois becomes the first state to completely end the use of money bond and adopt a more equitable system for pretrial detention grounded in safety, not access to money. Under this system, money will no longer be a condition of release. Good faith participation in our planning process and a strong commitment from leaders and staff at all levels, have enabled our agencies to come to this moment feeling confident and prepared to implement the Pretrial Fairness Act. Cook County leaders are proud to stand united and are committed to working together to ensure successful implementation of the new procedures in the coming weeks and beyond.
Cook County Office of the President: Cook County is the second largest county in the United States representing 5.2 million residents in Illinois. The President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Cook County and oversees the Offices Under the President and presides as president of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
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Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office: The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) is the nation’s second-largest prosecutor’s office and is led by Cook County’s first Black woman State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Foxx brings her vision to this office to fairly administer justice in the pursuit of thriving, healthy, and safe communities for every person who steps foot in Cook County, no matter their race, income, or zip code. Foxx has been recognized as one of the most progressive prosecutors through her forward-thinking, innovative strategies to intercept the cycles of violence and crime and bringing change to a criminal justice system rooted in systemic racism. Follow @SAKimFoxx on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and @CookCountySAO on Twitter and Facebook.
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Circuit Court of Cook, Office of the Chief Judge: The Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County is led by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. This is the largest judicial circuit in the State of Illinois and one of the largest unified court systems in the world. The court system is made up of about 400 judges and about 2,600 employees who include probation officers, court reporters, foreign and sign language interpreters, social case workers, law clerks and support staff.
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Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County: The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County is led by Clerk Iris Y. Martinez. The office creates and preserves the records for the nation’s second largest unified court system, currently maintaining approximately 24 million case files. As the first Latina elected to both the Illinois State Senate and the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office, Clerk Martinez has led in system innovations for the office that include the first centralized Call Center, servicing the public in over 200 languages. Clerk Martinez has partnered to open the first Self-Represented Litigants’ office, and led the implementation of the fully integrated Odyssey Case Management System which includes case search ability is all areas of law.
Clerk Martinez is committed to the service of the residents of Cook County and the participants in the judicial system, and endeavors to ensure efficiency, transparency, and increased access to justice as the community navigates the court system.
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Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender: The Cook County Public Defender's mission is to protect the fundamental rights, liberties and dignity of each person whose case has been entrusted to us by providing the finest legal representation.
The Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender is one of the largest criminal defense firms in the United States, with more than 450 attorneys and more than 650 employees overall. Each year the office represents tens of thousands of Cook County residents charged with every type of criminal offense and child protection violation.
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Cook County Justice Advisory Council: The Cook County Justice Advisory Council (JAC) coordinates and implements Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s criminal and juvenile justice reform efforts and community-safety policy development. The mission of the JAC is to promote equitable, human-centered, community-driven justice system innovation and practice through rigorous stakeholder engagement, policy work, service coordination, and grantmaking that increases community safety and reduces reliance on incarceration.
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