Cook County bonding procedures were restructured in 2017 by Timothy Evans, the Chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court System in consultation with Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle and Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx. Their collective goal was to reduce the Cook County Jail population of black and brown arrestees awaiting trial. Their words, not mine.
Bonds for individuals were once determined by seriousness of the crime charged and the flight risk of the person involved. Bonds are now more reasonable and determined by the amount of cash a defendant can afford. Yes. Read that again. Bonds are not set by the seriousness of the crime, but by the cash available to the criminal charged and awaiting trial. Even more disturbing is the fact that repeat offenders are routinely allowed low cash bonds and too often, no bonds required at all.
“It’s not by magic that we haven’t had any horrible incidents occur using this new [bail] system.” Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans during budget hearings, Nov. 4, 2019.
Let us review.
Ed Rush, 24 years old, was recently charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting 20-year-old Rayveon Hutchins to death last week. At the time of charging, Mr. Rush was free on a signature bond stemming from an aggravated battery of a police officer; a case which he failed to come to court on. The Chicago Tribune reports that Rush is also on probation for a misdemeanor gun violation.
After police arrested Rush for allegedly battering police on Sept. 22, Judge David Navarro released him after he posted a $500 cash bond. After Rush failed to appear at his court hearing, police re-arrested him and Judge Edward Maloney released him on his own recognizance, Nov. 6.
Israel Villegas arrested and charged in Oct. 2018, with murdering a 22-year-old man in Cicero while Villegas was on “affordable bail” for his fifth illegal gun case.
Villegas allegedly shot Diomar Rangel six times in the chest during an argument.
Villegas was free on a $250 cash bond that a judge set after prosecutors charged him with his fifth felony firearms violation and obstruction of justice.
Another example of this absurd new bonding procedure is the recent $500 dollar bond set for Bernard Kersh who was arrested and charged with aggravated battery to a Chicago police officer. Mr. Kirsh was previously convicted of resisting a peace officer and in a separate arrest, convicted of battery to a police officer. Those felony convictions were included among the misdemeanor convictions that he had racked up.
The inadequate bond for this man’s third felony involving violence aimed at police officers may have been influenced by the popularity of his supporters in bond court. Jessie Jackson was present along with numerous other phony anti-police activists. The total lack of respect of law enforcement displayed by Cook County judges, coupled with the Cook County’s administrations’ push to reduce the black and brown population in Cook County Jail at any cost, made the irresponsibly low bond to appear reasonable.
The day of reckoning will only come when immunity for the states attorneys and judges is finally removed; when true victims of these reckless bonds and get out of jail schemes will be allowed to sue these guardians of criminals. Maybe then, and only then, good judges can become respectable once again.
To all my brothers and sisters in blue, lock and load and protect each other. And as always, stay safe.
– Larry Casey
View Larry Casey’s website at www.StoriesofaChicagoPoliceOfficer.com and review his book by the same name. It makes a great inexpensive gift.
(Feature image: Screenshot ABC News)