Coalition to End Money Bond

About the Coalition

On April 20, 2016, Chicago Appleseed partnered with Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. to host a convening entitled “Ending Money Bail Advocacy Strategies.” At that meeting, which brought together criminal justice system stakeholders, advocates, and community groups, attorneys from Hughes Socol provided an overview of the lawsuit they later filed in October along with The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and Civil Rights Corps. The Chicago Community Bond Fund spoke about the need to focus reform attention not just on monetary bail, but on pretrial incarceration itself, and helped set the stage for reform efforts to engage critically with proposed solutions such as increased use of electronic monitoring and risk assessment tools, which may offer relief from incarceration but also come at social costs that must be made transparent, and then monitored and evaluated in practice.

The October 2016 press conference announcing the lawsuit against monetary bond in Cook County.

The theory of that convening was that the lawsuit would open up space for either legislative or administrative reforms to the use of secured money bond, and that community groups should be involved in shaping those reforms. This way, if the litigation team’s challenge to Cook County’s practice of incarcerating people who are presumed innocent simply because they cannot pay a monetary bond was successful, community groups would be ready with proposed reforms rather than asking a judge to shape a solution. Ideally, County and state elected officials would proactively seek reforms to the bail system that would satisfy the demands of the lawsuit.

Following the April 20th convening, Chicago Appleseed began hosting monthly meetings of advocates interested in reforming the use of monetary bond in Cook County, and possibly statewide. Many of these organizations were already working on issues of mass incarceration and racial justice within their own communities or program areas. Eventually, Chicago Appleseed, Hughes Socol, and CCBF were joined by representatives from the The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, The People’s Lobby, United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, A Just Harvest, Southside Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), The Next Movement, Nehemiah Trinity RisingBusiness and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI), Communities United, Illinois Justice Project, and others.

Now, after more than a year of meeting together and building consensus around both the issues and solutions, the Coalition to End Money Bond has coalesced into a powerful force for progressive reform and decarceration. Read about some of our current initiatives and past successes below!

Tyler Smith of Chicago Community Bond Fund speaking at the February 2017 press conference announcing introduction of HB 3421. Tyler spoke about the harms he experienced while on house arrest because he could not post $2,500 in bond.

Our Accomplishments

Support of and coordination with the Historic Legal Challenge to Use of Money Bail in Cook County

Drafting of the Principles for Bail Reform in Cook County

Support of HB 3421, The Equal Justice for All Act during the 2017 legislative session

Training more than 100 Community Courtwatchers in July 2017, who observed Cook County’s central bond court every day in August 2017.

Resources

The Community Courtwatching Initiative

Cook County Resources

Illinois Resources

In the Press

Community Courtwatching Training hosted by The Next Movement and SOUL on July 30, 2017.

Current Member Organizations

A Just Harvest

Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd.

Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice

Chicago Community Bond Fund

Illinois Justice Project

Justice and Witness Ministry of the Chicago Metropolitan Association, Illinois Conference, United Church of Christ

Nehemiah Trinity Rising

The Next Movement

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Southside Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL)

The People’s Lobby