Garry McCarthy Talks I-Bond and the CPD’s Own New Violence Interruption

On Chicago Tonight, the CPD head lays out his rationale for no longer offering individual-recognizance bonds to gang members for misdemeanor offenses.

Garry McCarthy was on Chicago Tonight the other night (h/t @henjealy). After going through the most recent crime statistics, McCarthy talks about the CPD’s new form of violence interruption: ceasing to issue i-bonds, or individual-recognizance bonds, for gang members:

The idea came from his own cops. In a focus group, his officers complained gang members were back on the street faster than the officers could fill out paperwork for misdemeanor arrests, such as assault charges stemming from a fight or low-level narcotics charges.

[snip]

The gang members join the list of other arrestees charged with misdemeanors that the department deems ineligible to receive I-bonds, including parolees, those with warrants and those arrested on weapon possession charges. People charged with more serious crimes aren’t eligible for I-bonds.

(Specifically, class A, B, and C misdemeanors, but not petty offenses.) In the interview, McCarthy says they got the go-ahead from the state’s attorney’s office that it’s constitutional to do so. What’s the possible controversy? A 2003 case, Simack v. Chicago, touched on the issue of i-bonds:

Plaintiffs allege they were each eligible for release on an I-Bond pursuant to Rule 553(d) of the Illinois Supreme Court, Ill. Sup.Ct. R. 553(d), because each were arrested for a non-jailable misdemeanor, had no pending arrest warrants and were unable to meet the amount of bail set for each respective offense.

553(d) says (emphasis mine):

Persons arrested for or charged with an offense covered by Rules 526, 527 and 528 who are unable to secure release from custody under these rules may be released by giving individual bond (in the amount required by this article) by those law enforcement officers designated by name or office by the chief judge of the circuit…. If authorized by the chief judge of the circuit, individual bonds under this paragraph (d) may be executed by signing the citation or complaint agreeing to comply with its conditions.

So the city was like, well, it says may, so we don’t have to. And Judge Robert W. Gettleman was like, no, let me translate that for you:

The court stated that while the statutes regulating the use and acceptance of bond use the word “may” in discussing when an officer is to accept bail, the intent of the drafters “must be determined not simply and automatically from the words themselves but from all of the circumstances before the court including the presence of a public interest which is deserving of protection.” Therefore, the court held that the proper definition of “may” is that there is a “mandatory duty on a police department to accept tendered bail set either by a judge or a supreme court rule from misdemeanor defendants”.

IANAL, but that’s some of the general context the new directive operates within. Here’s McCarthy explaining the rationale behind it:

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