Department of Capital Planning & Policy

The Bond Courtroom Redesign - A Collaborative Effort

Bond Court Renovations

View of the courtoom after work was completed.  Click on photo for larger view.

Reforming the bond court process has been aimed at following Illinois law more closely, releasing people who do not pose the risk of flight or harm to others, and safely reducing pretrial population in the Cook County Jail. All of Cook County’s criminal justice stakeholders have changed some aspects of employee behavior to support this reform. In turn, the County has redesigned and refurbished the physical surroundings to facilitate and support the work that reform depends on.

The first stage of this design happened early in the process of reform and may not have been notified by the public. Interview space was provided to meet the legal requirement of privacy for interviews by the Public Defender and the Pretrial Services staff. Space has also been provided for Cook County Health and Hospitals staff to determine if there is a need for behavioral health services for those detained. As a result, arrestees are treated more respectfully, and more information is available to share with the judges, which improves outcomes. 

In 2016, at the request of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the criminal justice leadership began working together to make the Central Bond Court more organized, fair and equitable for those it serves. With the pro-bono assistance of the Civic Consulting Alliance and Cannon Design, the main courtroom used for setting the conditions of release has been redesigned and refurbished to better serve the public, the arrestees and the staff who work there.The newly renamed courtroom, now known as the Pretrial Division, re-opened to the public in April 2018. In addition to a new slate of judges, the setting is more formal to acknowledge the seriousness of the work that is being done. At the same time the lighting, sound and sightlines have been improved. Prosecutors, defense counsel, Pretrial Service staff have been appropriately situated in the courtroom and can be heard by all.  The public, including family members and friends of arrestees, can more easily follow the proceedings and understand how to best advocate for their friend or family member. Outreach staff is still available to answer questions.       

Project physical highlights include:

  • Collaborative effort between Department of Facilities Management and General Contractor S. Mechanical
  • Installation of complete audio-visual system, flooring, painting, ceiling, doors and blinds
  • New Judges bench with seating
  • New furniture for attorneys and court services 
  • Facelift to CPD office adjacent to the Bond Court

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