NEWS: If You Let Crooks Off Easy, They Commit More Crimes

This is a very long story, but very good. Go read the whole thing. Essentially, Cook County implemented “reform” where they let more crooks out without bail. The judge in charge proceeded to cook the books to show that there were no negative consequences. After pressure from the Chicago Tribune, they found the underlying data to be flawed and there were, in fact, significant negative consequences. This is a good insight to the consequences of criminal justice reforms being considered in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans for months has defended the bail reform he ordered by citing an analysis produced by the office he runs.

His report, released in May, noted that Chicago saw no increase in violent crime after judges began implementing those reforms by reducing or eliminating monetary bail for many pretrial defendants. Far more of these defendants were released from custody, yet only “a very small fraction” were charged afterward with a new violent offense, the report states.

But a Tribune investigation has found flaws in both the data underlying Evans’ report and the techniques he used to analyze it — issues that minimize the number of defendants charged with murder and other violent crimes after being released from custody under bail reform.

One central conclusion of Evans’ analysis was that only 147 felony defendants released from custody in the 15 months after bail reform went on to be charged with new violent crimes, or 0.6% of the total. He has called this a “rare” occurrence.

But Evans’ definition of violent crime, while acceptable to criminologists under some circumstances, was limited to six offenses and excluded numerous others, including domestic battery, assault, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, armed violence and reckless homicide.

Hundreds of these charges were filed against people released after bail reform took effect, according to data Evans provided after the Tribune filed a public records petition to the Illinois Supreme Court. If those charges were included in the analysis, the total would be at least four times higher, the Tribune found.

The report’s underlying data also was flawed in multiple ways that led to an undercount of murders and other violent crimes allegedly committed by people out on bail.

In one example, the Tribune identified 21 defendants who allegedly committed murder after being released from custody in the 15 months after bail reform. Evans’ report said there were three.


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Sheriff Tom Dart and other law enforcement officials have championed the intent of Chicago’s reforms. But they also have warned that there are consequences when judges release people with violent charges and backgrounds into neighborhoods already shaken by crime and gunfire.

“The low bails give those dangerous criminals a sense of impunity and make their victims less likely to cooperate with police,” Lightfoot said at a news conference as she stood beside police after the July 4 weekend, when 66 people were shot, five fatally.