I am a resident of Hyde Park, a former student at the University of Chicago, and a member of Sunrise Chicago, a local hub of the national youth-led Sunrise Movement. I am writing in response to your recent article about Illinois State Senator Robert Peters’ calls for criminal justice reform ahead of the state’s Fall legislative session.

The article notes that Senator Peters is leading the charge on a number of much-needed reforms in our state, including ending cash bail and pretrial detention, as well as caring for the mental health of the incarcerated. But these reforms aren’t just about “criminal justice” — as Senator Peters himself states in the article. They’re about building a “safe, just, and dignified community.” Senator Peters recognizes that punitive policing and incarceration are grossly ineffective as tools of public safety, and that true public safety comes when we fight to get our friends, loved ones, and neighbors the resources they need to live with dignity.

I had the immense pleasure of canvassing for Senator Peters during his primary fight earlier this year. At every door I knocked on, I found myself excited to talk to other residents of our district about him and his record, about how much passion and energy he has already brought to the job. Not only is Senator Peters a champion of public safety, but he has also shown himself to be a passionate defender of my generation’s future through his efforts to pass ambitious climate legislation for our state like the Clean Energy Jobs Act currently winding its way through Springfield. In a moment where so many people my age feel disillusioned with our political system, I feel unbelievably lucky to have a State Senator I can count on. I’m thrilled that Sunrise Chicago has endorsed him, and feel that he’s someone that other young people in the district can be proud of voting for.

Isaiah Newman

(3) comments

Jolyon

If Jaye Platt's comments were informed and accurate the sky would be falling, as Platt implies, but they are not and it is not.

Bond is only granted in situations where the judge and prosecutors agree that the person charged with the crime--they have not yet gone to trial and only some turn out actually to be guilty of what they are charged with--is a potential danger to the community or is unlikely to return for trial should they be released with insufficient or no bond.

Cash bond has always meant vastly different things for the poor and the non-poor. For lack of wealth, poor people routinely spend days, weeks, and even months incarcerated while awaiting trial for crimes they are charged with and a significant portion of them will end up being freed because they are not guilty. The non-poor always have the wealth to bond-out and thus only suffer incarceration after after being convicted of their crimes. Why do people continue to argue that the poor should be incarcerated in the same situations that the non-poor go home?

Nobody in the Cook County Criminal justice political decision-making hierarchy supports releasing people deemed to be a risk to society. Sure, people awaiting trial do occasionally commit horrific crimes: this is true whether or not cash-bond is required and explains a tiny percentage of crime.

More to the point, requiring cash bond for people who cannot afford it means that thousands of low-income people innocent of the crimes for which they are held, or eventually guilty of only minor offenses and not a danger to the community, will nevertheless be incarcerated until formal trial. But again, with cash bond only those with little wealth suffer such unjust incarceration: those with wealth continue to bond-out.

Finally, incarceration creates massive costs to society and not only in maintaining and staffing the hugely expensive jails. Families lose members who provide companionship, love, parenting, income, home labor, etc. and the incarcerated often lose jobs that help them maintain a status as positively contributing members of society.

The no cash bond movement is based on sound evidence and intelligent policy that reduces crime and improves society. Those who attack it with polemical hysteria simply don't care about the victimization of entire communities of low-income people by the cash bond system.

Ross Petersen

A seven year old girl was shot, murdered at a McDonald's drive-through; Her father was wounded. The perpetrator was out, on bond, had already been charged with four felonies. The perpetrator should Never have been out, on bail. You are simply allowing these criminals to continue, and look at who is being victimized, here.

Jaye Platt

I'm afraid I'm hearing a lot of late 1960s Lib Orwell "1984" Newspeak, with lots of nice sounding words (euphemisms) for very bad policies. Mr. Peters wants to end all cash bonds, that translates that if someone here in our extremely violent, crime ridden city is arrested for crimes like car jacking, assault, organized looting (like we just had on the mag mile) the arrestees will be released without having to post any cash bond to ensure they come back for their court case (that's if our DA Kim Foxx ever decides to prosecute any of our worst violent criminals, like the ones responsible for ~ 4,000 plus shootings and 750 plus murders by the end of 2020.) My sources indicate that Chicago murder victims in 2020 are over 95% People of Color and over 75% Black African Americans. So Mr. Peters' "reforms" will likely result in the most violent criminals shooting and killing Chicago's POC, Black African Americans, they will be getting a "get out of jail for free" pass. Some rather confused people might see this as some type of great positive "reform", but pretty much every sane, regular neighbor I talk with thinks this is insane and is making our once safe, prosperous Chicago into a terrible place for poor POC to live. How about just restoring sane sensible, time tested police and criminal justice policies that arrest and punish the worst criminals, killers?

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