Silly me! I though Republicans had cornered the market on truly terrible political ideas! Just 120,000 troops to the Middle East? What could possibly go wrong with that?
Not to be outdone, the predominantly Democratic Will County Board is considering something that would make their GOP counterparts green with envy! They want to sue former inmates for the cost of their incarceration.
Hmmm! Forcing people to pay for being held against their will? That sounds an awful lot like a ransom demand to me.
And what a wonderful way to encourage recidivism! Put the ex-con, who already can’t get a job, behind the financial eight ball from square one. That way, you can ensure a continuous revenue stream by reincarcerating them and filing yet another lawsuit.
The impetus for this utterly irrational Will County initiative is, finally realizing that cash bonds, court fees, and fines have gotten completely out of control and disproportionally affect minorities, the Illinois General Assembly is spearheading a drive to standardize and reduce those bonds, fines and fees.
That, of course, begs the question, with the exception of Chairman Lauzen and Kane County, has any predominantly Republican Collar County ever considered holding the line on taxes, much less reducing them?
To be fair, most of the court cost, fee, and fine edicts emanate directly from Springfield, but as Will County just demonstrated, our local counties aren’t above adding their own brand of larceny into the mix.
And it starts with the fact that your circuit clerk gets to steal ten percent of your bond regardless of innocence or guilt. A judge regaled me with a tale of how he insisted that an exonerated defendant get every last penny of his $150,000 bond back, only to discover that 15 grand would be skimmed off the top because the statute gave him no leeway to return it.
There’s nothing quite like State sanctioned embezzlement, is there?
And that’s if you can even make bond which many minorities can’t. So, until very recently, those folks would rot in jail for two months or more waiting for the disposition of a case that would never put them in jail to begin with.
So, they lose their jobs and have to turn to “alternative” means of income when they are finally released.
If you make a deal or are found guilty, the court costs, fees and fine can run into the hundreds of dollars for a simple traffic violation. Please tell me why a DUI sentence should ever include $100 to an outside group like Mothers Against Drunk Driving? That’s nothing more than an outright shakedown.
It’s no better in civil court, either.
Filing a simple $2,500 small claims court suit in Kane County will run you $200. I understand we want to deter frivolous lawsuits and you get your court costs back if you win, but those kinds of absurdly high fees deter justice, too.
If you avail yourself of the full weight of the Kane County civil court system, your attorney will have to pay a $230 appearance fee “tax” just to walk through that courtroom door. How is that possibly jusitifiable?
The judge got it wrong – and they get it wrong all the time – and you want to file an appeal? Not so fast Sparky! First you have to fork over hundreds of dollars to the circuit clerk to have a low-lever staffer copy the court files. Then you have to pay thousands of dollars to court services to get the trial transcripts.
Since going before an appellate court pro se is pure folly, count on at least five grand for an attorney, and if they make the most minuscule formatting error in the brief, those fun-loving Second District Appeals Court judges will throw it out without a second thought.
And if you do prevail, please don’t think for a second that circuit court judge will refund your legal fees for completely screwing the whole thing up.
Having covered (and been through) the court system for 13 long years, the truly fascinating thing is, if you walk into any non-felony Kane County court call, despite the fact that Elgin and Aurora have their own branch courts and our County is 75 percent white, two-thirds of the defendants are always black and Hispanic.
That makes absolutely no sense because I’ve seen how most of you Caucasians behave.
The Collar County court systems have become nothing more than an institutionalized extortion racket intent on propping up old white male prosecutors and judges on the backs of minorities who already started 25 yards behind the rest of us in the human race. And most judges can’t even be bothered to work a full day.
Like I said, Illinois is trying to change this BS, but faster than you can say the word “reform” counties like Will are putting the onus right back on the people who can least afford it. And that County Board is virtually bragging about it.
And by the way! If Will county jails what turns out to be an innocent defendant pending trial, are they going to pay them for all that lost time? The legal sword cuts both ways!
So, why stop at suing inmates for their incarceration? Why bother with any pretense whatsoever? Let’s go right back to debtors’ prison, lopping off thieves’ hands, and torture generated confessions. Shame on every last Will County Board member for even considering this kind of abjectly cruel institutional abuse.