If you are a suspected Chicago gang member, you can expect to spend time in jail if you can’t afford bail, according to a new practice by the city aimed at reducing gang-related crime. Now, even for misdemeanors, gang members will not be released without a bond.
When charged with a misdemeanor, many people are released on their own recognizance. This simply means they make a promise to return for their future court dates, but no cash bond is required. But, officials say that requiring a cash bond for gang members may somehow reduce gang violence and keep some locked up in the meantime.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, nearly 1,500 gang members have already been denied a no-cash bond as a result of the new practice.
The change was sparked by patrol officers, who were tired of arresting gang members for misdemeanors and seeing them immediately back out on the streets. They said the offenders were back out before they had even finished filling out the paperwork for their arrests.
For whatever reason, the CPD isn’t concerned about the jail population exploding. The Cook County jail is still operating under maximum capacity.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says the police use a variety of tactics to determine if they are dealing with an active gang member. These include looking at tattoos, known associates, and prior arrests.
Bail for misdemeanors is normally set at $1,200 or $1,500, of which offenders must now come up with 10 percent before being released. For many, this isn’t a problem. For others, however, this kind of money doesn’t come easily—particularly when you are in jail and can’t come up with it without some kind of help.
This practice is just part of the city’s new battle against gangs. Paired with an exceptionally high murder rate, gang violence in the city is being examined under a microscope.
In addition to denying no-cash bonds for misdemeanors, the city is conducting gang audits designed to stop gang activity in its early stages as well as shutting down “open air drug markets”.
If you are part of a gang or merely from a neighborhood where gang presence is commonplace, you can expect to possibly feel the brunt of these new efforts. Fortunately, even if you are arrested and a suspected gang member—you have rights.