Illinois Caps Bond Processing Fees

Cook County's Bond Processing Fees Will Be Capped in 2016

Beginning in 2016, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County ("Court Clerk") will no longer be able to charge a 10% bond processing fee on a cash bond, regardless of the amount.

Currently, Illinois permits Court Clerks throughout the state to charge a bond processing fee equal to 10% of a criminal defendant's bond.

On the recommendation of the Cook County Board, the Illinois General Assembly agreed to amend the law.  The amendment caps  bond processing fees at $100 in counties with 3 million or more residents.

The new limit on bond processing fees will only apply in counties that meet the population cutoff.  The amendment does not relieve defendants who have been acquitted from paying these fees.

Will Reduced Bond Processing Fees Prompt Increase in Other Court Costs?

The new law was not welcome news to Dorothy Brown, the current Cook County Court Clerk. Brown contends that the change in the law will reduce her office's revenue by $5 million. Don't be surprised if other court costs are increased to make up the shortfall.

Notwithstanding her objections, this amendment is not likely to be the last effort to reform Illinois' cash bond system.

One Cook County Commissioner, John Fritchey, indicated that he would like to eliminate bond possessing fees entirely for defendants found not guilty.

Efforts to reform Cook County's cash bond system may be a response to findings, published in 2012, that a high percentage of defendants are detained while awaiting trial.  I discussed this issue in a previous blog posting.

In 2011, 90% of the Cook County Jail's population consisted of individuals who had not been found guilty.

Throughout the United States, legislators have come to realize that money spent on their jail and prison populations is money not available for education, public pensions, or balancing the budget.

Nationally, in 2013, it cost $19,000 to jail someone awaiting trial.  Today, the Cook County Jail boosts a daily population of between 9,000 and 10,000.

Just think how much money could be freed up if fewer defendants were ordered to post bond.