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Report Details Cost of Being Poor in Illinois

posted October 26th, 2016

Nearly two thirds of the Illinois residents with an annual income of less than $20,000 spend more than half of their paycheck on housing. The high cost of rent, quality food, and childcare is documented in a new report from a broad cross-section of human service groups. Dan Lesser is the Director of Economic Justice at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. He tells WDCB News the high cost of being poor is statewide problem. Lesser says the costs may vary, housing may be less expensive in some downstate areas than it is in Chicago, but then there are costs for other things. He says affordable and nutrious food is harder to access in some communities than others.  Lesser says the challenges of poverty are amplified by the state’s financial woes. He says the continued uncertainty about funding for social services and lack of a full year budget have put many of the state’s safety net programs in question.

Lawsuit Questions Constitutionality of Cash Bond

posted October 24th, 2016

A lawsuit filed earlier this month in Cook County says thousands of poor inmates are being held in the county jail for one reason, they can’t afford to pay bail. Attorneys hope for ‘class-action’ status to cover all Cook County Jail detainees. The Chicago based John Howard Association works for a variety of prison reform measures. Jenny Vollen-Katz is the advocacy group’s Executive Director. She tells WDCB News the current cash-bond system is flawed. Vollen-Katz says what cash bond does is it creates a debtor's prison. She says courts create a system where a suspect's financial means determines if they will stay in jail pending resolution of a case. Vollen-Katz says that's wrong on many levels, it's unfair, it's unjust, and it's wasteful of tax payer money. She says there is no reason to impose extraordinarily high cash bonds, many states now use risk assessment tools to determine which offenders should be kept in jail and who should go home to await trial.