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Implementing the Pretrial Fairness Act in Cook County

One approach to reducing the reach of the criminal legal system on individuals includes legislative reforms limiting the use of pretrial detention and elevating reliance on pretrial release on recognize on under pretrial monitoring. However, local jurisdictions sometimes lack the dedicated staff and capacity to prepare for and implement such large-scale changes.

JSP provides implementation assistance to sites aiming to achieve such legislative efforts. For instance, we are working alongside Cook County, IL to implement the Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA), which eliminates money bail, reduces pretrial incarceration, and increases law enforcement use of citations that do not require an arrest, among other state-wide reforms focused on equity and transparency in the pretrial system. Successful implementation of new legislation requires a thorough planning process with input from different parts of systems and communities impacted by the law. JSP’s primary role in Cook County is to facilitate the planning process and coordinate efforts between stakeholders. Our work has included convening stakeholders; organizing and facilitating task-oriented subgroups; liaising with state entities; mapping current processes and systems and helping stakeholders design new ones; establishing and supporting change management leaders within local agencies; tying data to current and future processes; updating tools and forms; developing trainings and resources; and facilitating problem-solving dialogue.

Careful consideration of key details like sequencing, timing, funding, communication, training, change management, and measurement and evaluation have oriented Cook County stakeholders to confidently implement the PFA on September 18th, 2023. Stakeholders have reported feeling prepared for and supported during implementation, and relationships have been built and strengthened across agencies and jurisdictions throughout the collaborative planning process. Ongoing stakeholder dialogue indicates a high level of engagement in shifting the focus to more effective, humane, and equitable approaches to justice. Additionally, JSP helped stakeholders build capacity for data collection and measurement, and local universities and researchers will help to measure and illustrate impacts of the law on communities throughout Illinois.

Related Resources

Working toward Pretrial Fairness in Cook County

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