The Illinois Supreme Court in its report issued Friday says in many ways the Pre-trial Service and Probation Department of the Cook County court system is broken and issued a scathing assessment in how it is run by Cook County Chief Justice Timothy Evans.
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman ordered the audit last year after Evans requested 15 additional positions for his department.
Instead Garman appointed a 12 member independent audit of the current court operation headed by longtime cook county chief judge Timothy Evans.
The 12 member panel conducted in depth interviews with board president Toni Prekwinkle, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alverez, Public Defender AC Cumnimgham, Sheriff Tom Dart, Chief Judge Evans and their respective staffs.
The auditors also made visits to Markham, Bridgeview, Maywood all of the other branches within system to get a firsthand look for themselves.
The 64 page report includes 40 recommendations and emphasizes quote there has been a gradual erosion of management and leadership structure dedicated to the pre-trial services program and that there is a general lack of understanding of the pretrial services function by stakeholders and probation department staff.
The report goes on to say as a result there has been glaring inconsistencies with suspects awaiting trial who have wrongly been released on bond only to go out and commit additional crimes like rape or murder.
And communication among the different Cook County departments and specifically within the chief judge’s office has been lacking or absent altogether.
To remedy the situation the Supreme Court is now Recommending appointing an administrator to overhaul the current system
Just earlier this week in anticipation of Friday’s scathing report Evans who is elected by his fellow judges saying that he is proud of them and the court system and that no one in any line of work is perfect.
Sheriff Tom dart who was unavailable spoke through his top executive assistant Cara Smith at the jail.
Preckwinkle issued the following statement:
“I’m grateful the Illinois Supreme Court took the time to audit the performance of the Adult Probation Department and Pretrial Services Program at the Cook County court system. I’ve consistently expressed concerns about the management of this department and look forward to working with the court and the new monitor address their recommendations. This is about more than just a lack of leadership, it is about the men and women who suffer when the system is allowed to fail.”
No comment from Evans.