Cook County Sheriff’s Office Moves Criminal Justice Reform Legislation Through Senate Criminal Law Committee

Mar 15, 2017Uncategorized

In its legislative session yesterday, the Criminal Law Committee of the Illinois State Senate unanimously voted a package of three separate criminal justice reform bills, introduced by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, out of committee.

  • Senate Bill 1980, sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham, seeks to expand the gun offenses that qualify for no-bond status, giving judges clear discretion to hold high-level gun offenders in custody pre-trial.
  • Senate Bill 1782, sponsored by Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, seeks to establish an expedited expungement process for those charged with retail theft, criminal trespassing, minor traffic offense and petty drug crimes whose charges are dropped whereby upon a petition filed by their attorney, a judge can order the arrests expunged automatically.
  • Senate Bill 1781, also sponsored by Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, seeks to extend a Cook County expungement pilot program which waives the fee for a petition to expunge or seal records of arrests resulting in release without charging or arrests or charges not initiated by arrest resulting in acquittal, dismissal, or conviction when the conviction was reversed or vacated.

“These three bills move the needle in the right direction when it comes to keeping those behind bars who deserve to be, while giving relief to victims of a broken criminal justice system. I appreciate the committee’s support of this package and the leadership of Senators Collins and Cunningham” said Sheriff Dart.

In its testimony for SB1980, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office presented its own data showing that gun offenders frequently gain access to large amounts of cash and are quickly released back to the community, undermining the perceived benefits of requiring defendants to post high bonds.

The office found that nearly half of those who posted high bonds to get out of jail between January 31st and March 7th were facing high-level gun charges covered by this legislation. Of those 50 defendants, a third came up with $10,000 or more, one of which paid at least $25,000.