Cook County sheriff calls for scrapping cash-bond system

CHICAGO (AP) — The Cook County sheriff has called for abolishing Illinois’ cash-bond system, saying it’s unfair to low-level defendants who can’t afford to pay and puts society in danger when defendants with violent backgrounds are freed until trial when posting bail.

Sheriff Tom Dart’s statement Tuesday comes days before the County Board has scheduled a hearing to overhaul how the county sets bonds.

Under current state law, cash bail is to ensure defendants show up for court and don’t pose a danger to the community.

Dart’s policy director, Cara Smith, says the sheriff’s office is drafting legislation that would allow judges to assess whether a defendant should be in custody or released under conditions including electronic monitoring. She says Illinois would need to invest in more court services to help judges make decisions and improve monitoring of those freed pending trial.