On the afternoon of Friday, March 20, 2020, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli filed an emergency petition calling for the mass release of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail to protect their health and the health of the public in the wake of COVID-19.
The petition lists several categories of people who should be released, which largely mirror the demands for release supported by CCBF and more than 70 community organizations, including:
- All persons who are at elevated risk of contracting COVID-19, either because of age and/or because of underlying health conditions;
- All pregnant women;
- All persons who are being confined on misdemeanor charges, felony charges as to which they are probationable or non-violent felony charges, including in particular all non-violent class 3 and class 4 felony charges;
- All persons who are being confined following a judicial determination that they are bailable, but who remain in Jail because they cannot pay the money bond set in their cases;
- All persons who are being confined following arrest on a warrant or upon an allegation of parole or probation violation and who are not charged with or suspected of a crime of violence;
- All persons serving sentences of imprisonment in the Jail;
- All persons who are eligible for release only if they satisfy the conditions of electronic monitoring but who remain in the Jail because they have “no place to stay.”
An amicus brief in support of the mass release petition was filed on behalf of Chicago Community Bond Fund, The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, Illinois Justice Project, and Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justicewith an additional 26 advocacy, community, and legal organizations joining in support.
The amicus puts into perspective the seriousness of COVID-19 and the magnitude of the risk it presents to people incarcerated in Cook County Jail and the broader Cook County community.