Local law enforcement pushes wealth-based bails

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CHICAGO -- Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and other law enforcement officials say bails are set too high for many crime suspects. They asking the Illinois Supreme Court to force lower courts to issue wealth-based bails.

Every day up to 200 people who are accused of minor, non-violent crimes, sit in Cook County jail because they can’t afford bail of $1,000 or less. That wreaks havoc on a system already overworked and oversaturated.  Most of those inmates in this group are disproportionately African-American or Latino.

In January, a new law will go into effect in Cook County that will assess each case in terms of risk and ability to pay before someone gets put in jail for a minor offense.

Just a few weeks ago, former attorney general Eric Holder issued a finding that backed up what many in the criminal justice system had been talking about for years . That report will be used to persuade the state Supreme Court to change the law statewide.

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