News from President Toni Preckwinkle

We lock up too many people

We Lock Up Too Many PeopleBy Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.  Originally published in the April 2, 2013 edition of

As new policing strategies and legislation are being considered to address gun violence in Chicago, decisions can’t be made solely through the lens of police response. Instead, they should be viewed through the broader scope of our justice system and the cost to individuals, families, communities and taxpayers.

The Chicago Police Department policing strategy has drawn attention to a fundamental weakness in Cook County’s justice system.

Chicago is applying an approach commonly referred to as a broken windows strategy, in which police officers focus on minor offenses to prevent more serious ones from occurring. Chicago plans to allow police to arrest people who fail to pay tickets for public drunkenness or gambling, in an attempt to change behavior and make neighborhoods safer.

This strategy worked in New York City without crippling the public safety system because Bronx and Kings Counties do not unnecessarily hold people when they are charged with nonviolent offenses. The arrest removes the person from the street but does not lead to prolonged detention at great financial and human cost.

Chicago is not New York. And Cook County is not Kings County.

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1 Response

  1. Sid

    We not lock up people long enough. Too many people are arrested over and over again. We need to enforce the three strikes rule. Lock them up for ever.

    The cost of repeat offenders is too high.

    In the case of politicians they need to be locked up for twice as long as any other person convicted of the same offense.

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