Charges Dismissed

November 4, 2013 | by Angela Caputo, Mary Mitchell | The Chicago Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times

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The Chicago Sun-Times applauds Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has made cutting the jail population one of her top priorities. Unafraid to ask hard questions about the criminal justice system, Preckwinkle is challenging the idea that the jail population primarily consists of dangerous individuals.

The Chicago Sun-Times applauds Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has made cutting the jail population one of her top priorities. Unafraid to ask hard questions about the criminal justice system, Preckwinkle is challenging the idea that the jail population primarily consists of dangerous individuals. She suggests that the jail population, which consists predominantly of people of color, is a result of racism and social class rather than an inclination to criminal activity. Preckwinkle questions what is considered dangerous and hopes to reduce the number of non-violent detainees.

A recent Chicago Reporter article describes the network of relationships connecting policing, the courts, and the jail. From 2006 to 2012, eight out of 10 misdemeanor cases were dismissed, making Cook County’s dismissal rate one of the highest in the nation. While police argue that arrests are necessary in order to deter violent crime, Candace McCoy, a professor at John Jay Criminal Justice at The City University of New York, argues these high numbers are a result of “rounding up of the usual suspects,” a practice civil rights advocates compare to New York’s stop-and-frisk debate. Timothy Evans, a chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, argues that the ability for reform lays in the hands of state attorneys, not judges. Preckwinkle and other critics believe the high dismissal rate is a result of prosecutors’ attempt to maintain a good relationship by police by allowing them to arrest whenever there is a reasonable suspicion.

To read the original Chicago Sun-Times article, click here.

To read the original Chicago Reporter article, click here.