In an article published several days ago by the Chicago Tribune, regarding their longstanding investigation into the effects of “Cook County judges sharply lowering bonds for people accused of violent domestic attacks,” they reveal how the Cook County courts are placing victims of gender based violence (GBV) in increased danger of experiencing repeat attacks by the abusers. In their investigation they also found that “prosecutors are dropping more of these cases.”
The aim of the lower bonds is aimed as addressing “long-standing racial inequities in bonds that can keep defendants in custody simply because they cannot pay,” a decision implemented by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, supported by the State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Chief Judge Timothy Evans.
However, advocates and GBV organisations are criticising this decision saying that “prosecutors and judges are now releasing suspects without fully considering the safety of domestic battery survivors [and] reform is being pursued at the expense of the victims.”
Lowering bonds and dropping cases has the following effects on victims of GBV:
- The accused return to the victim to continue the abuse immediately after release from custody.
- Although abuse happens in “families of every race and income level, Chicago police reports of aggravated domestic battery are concentrated in lower-income communities, therefore more victims have limited or no resources to protect themselves from repeat-abuse.
- Their livelihood is threated as victims of GBV must miss work to attend court proceedings that last for hours and stretches over years before reaching finalisation.
According to the Chicago Tribune report, GBV is unique in the sense that “there is no other crime where the perpetrator goes back to the scene of the crime and sets up housekeeping with impunity…, and these perpetrators usually have one person in mind and they’re going right after that person. They present a profound danger not to the community at large, but to that one victim.”
Click here to read all the finding of the Chicago Tribune investigation.