The 'horrible' consequences of Cook County's 'affordable bail' program

The cultural and political war on the criminal justice system isn't limited to attacking cops and claiming that "mass incarceration" (of people convicted of crimes) is unjust.  There are activists who believe that setting bail high enough to be painful if forfeited is also unjust.  Some would even abolish bail entirely and let people accused of major crimes circulate freely among the populace.

The State of Illinois enacted a bail reform law that required judges to consider a defendant's financial circumstances, but Cook County took it a step farther, as the Chicago Tribune reported two and a half years ago:

Late last year [2016], on the heels of similar lawsuits in eight other states, advocates filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court alleging that criminal court judges routinely set cash bail at unaffordable levels, depriving arrestees of their constitutional right to pretrial liberty.

Under the new Cook County policy, defendants will be interviewed about their financial resources before a bond hearing. That information will be provided to judges, who then will be required to set a bond that the defendant "has the present ability to pay," according to the policy.

"I think people who are arrested will be given the full recognition that they are presumed innocent," Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who signed the order outlining the new policy, told the Tribune in a telephone interview.

Chief Judge Evans has continued to support the policy and making a claim that cannot be supported.  The crime watchdogs at CWB Chicago are not fooled:

Remember Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans' proclamation this month that "we haven't had any horrible incidents occur using" his two-year-old affordable bail program?

Last week, we reported on some murder cases that many members of the public may feel are, in fact, horrible. All of the homicides were allegedly carried out by offenders who were free on affordable bail.

"It's not by magic that we haven't had any horrible incidents occur using this new [bail] system."

Cook County Chief Judge Timoth[y] Evans during budget hearings, Nov. 4, 2019

Now, a couple of additional not "horrible" cases have emerged.

Prosecutors yesterday charged 24-year-old Ed Rush with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting 20-year-old Rayveon Hutchins to death as he walked on the 1200 block of South Throop last week.

At the time of the murder, Rush was free on a recognizance bond even though he previously skipped bail on a pending aggravated battery of a police officer case. The Tribune reports that Rush is also on probation for a misdemeanor gun violation.

After cops arrested Rush for allegedly battering police on Sept. 22, Judge David Navarro let him go home by posting a $500 deposit bond, according to court records. Rush failed to appear at his next court date. Authorities rounded him up, but Judge Edward Maloney released him on his own recognizance Nov. 6. 

Suburban case

After we ran last week's run-down of "not horrible" murder cases, a reader recommended that we look into the case of 31-year-old Israel Villegas.

As it turns out, Villegas was 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's bail?  $250.  Less than most smartphones and a lot of Nike sneakers.

Ed Rush (right) and Israel Villegas.  Cook County Sheriff's Office via CWBChicago.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol.

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