by Mary C. Piemonte
Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans (right) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle with Judge George Leighton in June 2012. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte
Although there is growing attention to the large number of Americans confined in state and federal prisons nationally, much less attention has been paid to local jails.
A large percentage of the inmate population of both sentenced offenders and pretrial detainees are in jail for nonviolent offenses such as traffic, property, drug or public order violations.
And low-income individuals and communities of color across the nation disproportionately experience the negative consequences of incarceration, according to Cook County public officials in the criminal justice system.
However, Cook County was one of 20 jurisdictions from 45 states selected on May 27, 2015, to receive a $150,000 planning grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “to reduce the number of low level nonviolent offenders incarcerated in the Cook County Jail.”