Criminal Justice


Chicago Appleseed aims for safe and cost-effective alternatives to incarceration. We accomplish these aims through research, advocacy, legislative proposals, technical assistance, and project management. Currently our work focuses on four project areas: Alternatives to Incarceration, Length of Stay in the Cook County Jail, Constitutional Issues, and the Administration of Justice. Click on each heading to the left to learn about our ongoing projects, accomplishments, reports, and partners.

Chicago Appleseed played key roles in the following system improvements:

  • Creation of an evidence-based court model for linking justice-involved individuals with substance use disorders to community-based services.
  • Awarding of public defenders to all indigent felony defendants, regardless of whether they have posted bond.
  • Elimination of video-conferenced bond hearings that were shown to drive up bail amounts for all offenders.
  • Creation of a pretrial services division for early identification of defendants with substance abuse and mental health needs.


Current & Past Projects

  • Alternatives to Incarceration
    • Access to Community Treatment Court
    • Illinois Supreme Court Proposal
    • Street Level Diversion
    • Justice & Health Initiative
    • Community Courts
  • Length of Stay in the Cook County Jail
    • Felony Review
    • Reducing time to Preliminary Hearing
    • Field Testing Drugs
    • Evidence-Based Bail Decisions
      • Court Watching Report
    • Constitutional Issues
      • 6th Amendment / Denial of Public Defenders
      • Videoconference Bond Hearings
    • Administration of Justice
      • Solovy Revisited Commission
      • Report on Felony Courts



Partners in Reform

Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, Inc. (TASC)

Chicago-Kent Law School

Northwestern U / Bluhm Legal Clinic

Circuit Court / Office of the Chief Judge / Criminal Division

Cook County SAO

Cook County PDO

Cook County JAC

Loevy & Loevy

Chicago Reporter

The Reclaim Campaign


Ensuring the Public Defense of Indigent Criminal Defendants in Cook County (August 2015)

Executive Summary: Ensuring the Public Defense of Indigent Criminal Defendants in Cook County (August 2015)

CAFFJ Legislation Proposal Reduce Time to Preliminary Hearings

Pre-Trial Delay and Length of Stay in Cook County Jail  &  Executive Summary (2013)

Illinois Supreme Court Proposal:  Going to Scale: Coordinating Criminal Justice Reform in Cook County (2013)

Bailing Out of A Medieval System (2005 White Paper by Tom Warkowski, former prosecutor and Jail Population Analyst for Winnebago County, IL)

Policy Brief: Community Courts in Cook County, Part I (2013)

Policy Brief: Community Courts in Cook County, Part II  (2013)

Public Testimony on Illinois Supreme Court Proposal 12-01 (P.R. 0196) — Defendant’s Appearance by Videoconference (2012)

Policy Brief: Use of Data in Criminal Court Performance Measurement (2012)

Policy Brief: Early Criminal Case Assessment in Urban Jurisdictions (2012)

Report: Strategies to Enhance and Coordinate Cook County Diversion Programs (2012)

Executive Summary: Strategies to Enhance and Coordinate Cook County Diversion Programs (2012)

Court Watching Report: Cook County Central Bond Court (2011)

Report: Cook County Diversion Court: Proposal and Implementation Plan (2010)

A Report on Chicago’s Felony Courts (2007)

A Report on Chicago’s Felony Courts – Executive Summary (2007)


Recommended Resources

Brennan Center for Justice – Justice Program
Center for Court Innovation
Cook County Sheriff Research
Cook County Specialty Courts Information Page
National Center on State Courts
National Institute of Justice
Pew Center on the States – Public Safety Performance Project
Urban Institute – Justice Policy Center
Vera Institute for Justice


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