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Assessment of the Felony Case Process in Cook County, Illinois and its Impact on Jail Crowding

NCJ Number
Date Published
18 pages

This study focuses on the caseflow management practices as they affect the population level in the Cook County Jail; the objectives are to identify practices that contribute to present jail crowding situations and to recommend changes.


A principle contributor to jail overcrowding is the felony adjudication process because of overly long case processing times which have resulted in long lengths of stay for pretrial detainees. This problem may be corrected with modest additional resources and a change in the assumption and practices of the local legal culture. The judiciary needs to take the initiative to create a coordinated approach to adjudication system improvement. A comprehensive criminal justice planning system would help achieve cost-effective criminal justice spending. A pretrial service agency would provide a mechanism by which the judiciary could more effectively carry out its constitutional and legislative responsibilities for pretrial release decision-making. The study team noted a marked contrast between public perception and the study team's observations of the justice system leaders' professional motivation, sense of responsibility, and understanding of the interrelated nature of the problems confronting the criminal justice system. National and local law enforcement initiatives on anti-drug abuse efforts have been the major factor in changing the mix and the increased volume of cases entering the criminal justice system which must be handled by the adjudication system agencies. The paper offers seventy-two recommendations to help alleviate overcrowding and inefficiency in the court system.

Date Published: January 1, 1990