Again and again the data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately, and systematically, stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with what has become a glaring divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.

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Money for Communities, Not Cages: The Case for Reducing the Cook County Sheriff’s Jail Budget

October 23, 2018

In 2013, more than 10,000 people were incarcerated in Cook County Jail on any given day, and the Cook County Sheriff's Department had a budget of $445 million dollars. On October 21, 2018, there were 6,095 people in Cook County Jail and another 2,180 people in custody on Electronic Monitoring. Despite this massive 44% decrease in the number of people incarcerated in the jail between 2013 and 2018, the Sheriff's Budget grew 28% over that same five year period—reaching a whopping $588 million in 2018.This historic decline in the number of people in Cook County Jail, the result of successful pretrial justice reforms, should coincide with a similar decrease in the Sheriff 's budget. Instead of being reallocated within the Sheriff's budget, these funds should be redirected to services benefitting Cook County's most marginalized residents. These residents overwhelmingly live in the very same Black and Brown communities most harmed by Cook County Jail and our broken pretrial system.Cook County is already spending tens of millions of dollars each year specifically targeting these neighborhoods; that money is being allocated to surveillance, policing, and incarceration. Righting the wrongs of this unjust system must include taking the funds previously used to incarcerate Cook County's most marginalized communities and channeling them towards resources that actually strengthen those communities. Spending on Cook County Jail is fundamentally regressive, whereas investment in lower-cost community services allows us to address the root causes of the social problems so often cited to justify bloated budgets for incarceration. Cook County residents need access to mental health treatment in the community, stable housing, effective educational opportunities, and jobs that can support a family. The declining number of people in jail shows that Cook County is ready to take the next step in ending mass incarceration. By re-allocating money from reactionary corrections programs to proactive and preventative community services, Cook County can begin to effectively invest in the communities and people previously neglected and criminalized.

Punishment Is Not a "Service"

October 24, 2017

In the past two years, community organizers and advocates have made dramatic headway in the fight to end money bond and pretrial incarceration in Cook County. The most significant and recent victory is the introduction of General Order 18.8A by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, effective September 18, 2017.Following litigation and public pressure to reduce the number of people locked up in Cook County Jail only because they cannot pay a monetary bond, the order is supposed to ensure that judges do not set money bond except in amounts that people can pay. If followed, the order represents a dramatic shift away from unpaid money bond as the primary driver of pretrial incarceration and toward a new respect for the presumption of innocence in Cook County. Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) and our partners in The Coalition to End Money Bond are currently working to ensure that the order is fully implemented and that no one is incarcerated in Cook County Jail solely because they cannot pay a money bond.As more people are diverted from the jail, CCBF is increasing our focus on what is happening to those individuals who previously would have been incarcerated. Through our work posting bond for people who cannot afford it themselves and observing Central Bond Court, CCBF has consistently observed conditions of pretrial release that operate as a form of pretrial punishment. Since 2015, CCBF has posted bond to free 98 people. Of these people, more than one in four were subjected to punitive pretrial conditions, including electronic monitoring, overnight or 24-hour curfews, monthly check-ins with a Pretrial Services officer, and drug testing—all after we posted their significant monetary bonds. These conditions are ordered by the court, most often by judges in bond court, and overseen by either the Pretrial Services Division or the Sheriff's Office.Under the guise of helping accused people come back to court and avoid re-arrest, pretrial conditions restrict the liberty of innocent people and even mimic the same harms as pretrial incarceration, causing loss of jobs, housing, access to medical care and putting severe strain on social support networks and family members. Pretrial conditions such as curfews actually place more severe restrictions on freedom than sentences received after conviction, such as probation, supervision, and conditional discharge. Furthermore, punitive pretrial conditions coerce people to plead guilty, undermining accused people's rights and recreating the negative impacts of incarceration in jail. These pretrial conditions violate the presumption of innocence that seeks to prevent punishment before conviction.The current punitive approach of the Pretrial Services Division plays a key role in driving this troubling trend. Over the last six months, CCBF has repeatedly seen Pretrial Services impose punitive conditions on individuals for whom CCBF has posted bond. Through their observations of Central Bond Court from August to October 2017, volunteer courtwatchers with the Coalition to End Money Bond also documented regular imposition of onerous pretrial conditions such as curfews, as well as electronic monitoring operated by the Sheriff's Office. The full extent and impact of these punishments are not transparent: Advocates and the public are unable to access the most basic information about Pretrial Service's systemic impact because it is housed under the Office of the Chief Judge and thus not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Mistrust and Ambivalence between Residents and the Police: Evidence from Four Chicago Neighborhoods

July 31, 2017

This brief examines the fractured relationship between residents in high-crime Chicago neighborhoods and the police that serve those communities. Based on surveys of people living in and police officers serving in four Chicago police districts on the city's south and west sides collected as part of the evaluation of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, these data demonstrate ambivalence between the police and residents. Community members do not generally perceive the police as acting in a procedurally fair manner and do not support their work; this perception is particularly high among people with recent arrest histories in co-offending networks. Police officers do not believe the community trusts them, and officers express little confidence or trust in those living in the districts they police. However, residents are generally willing to cooperate with the police on crime control efforts.

Recommendations for Reform: Restoring Trust Between the Chicago Police and the Communities They Serve

April 13, 2016

The report contains comprehensive findings based on the input from experts, organizations and individuals from all across Chicago as well as detailed research; interviews with community, legal and civil rights organizations; current and former police officers; and young people across the city. The report provides over 100 recommendations for reform and reviews of best practices in other police departments.

Reform Strategies

Counter-CAPS Report: the Community Engagement Arm of the Police State

October 27, 2015

After more than a year of protests against the police murder of Black people, police departments across the U.S. have an image problem. The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn public attention not just to high-profile deaths, but also to the routine violence and harassment young people of color experience at the hands of the police. The protests have created a crisis of legitimacy for both police departments across the country, and the institution of policing as it exists in the United States. In this context, police are attempting to improve the strained relations between themselves and the communities they patrol, using the decades-old rhetoric of "community policing." This is a national shift. Community policing is a key pillar of Final Report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. President Obama has advocated for community policing in a series of highly publicized speeches in Camden, NJ and more recently at the meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago, IL. The Chicago Police Department is no exception to this trend. The department is re-emphasizing community policing in an attempt to maintain its legitimacy. This is evidenced in the Department's "listening tour" in the summer of 2015, which brought renewed attention to the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS). Existing research shows that CAPS has not resulted in meaningful community control over police. Instead, police officers retain total control over decision-making and agenda-setting. As examined in this report, "community policing" is the superficial involvement of select community members in providing police with legitimacy. "Community policing" acts as a shield for police. A self-selecting group of empowered community members, who are frequently gentrifiers, work with police to deflect criticism and build local support for policing. Despite its more palatable label, Chicago's "community policing" program is used to provide political cover foraggressive enforcement of so-called "quality of life" crimes–and even for the physical displacement of people of color from gentrifying neighborhoods. From April to September 2015, Real Community Accountability for People's Safety (RCAPS), a working group of We Charge Genocide (WCG), gathered data at CAPS meetings in several different neighborhoods across Chicago. Our research shows that CAPS' primary function is to further mobilize residents already committed to police involvement, increasing police surveillance of a community's most vulnerable residents orvisitors.

Racial Bias & Profiling

Stop and Frisk in Chicago

March 1, 2015

This report shows that the Chicago Police Department has a current practice of unlawfully using stop and frisk. Stop and frisk is disproportionately concentrated in the black community. Comparing stops to population, Chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often as New Yorkers at the height of New York City's stop and frisk practice. In the face of a systemic abuse of this law enforcement practice, Chicago refuses to keep adequate data about its officers' stops. The lack of data collection is a major impediment to understanding how stop and frisk policy is actually carried out on the streets. The report contains several improvements need to be made to provide greater transparency and make it possible for supervisors to fully review stops and frisks.

Data Gaps; Stop & Frisk