Why we need your help
The Cook County criminal court system has lost a major transparency tool.
Effective July 17, the Circuit Court terminated daily live streams of hearings in which judges decide whether people accused of felony crimes should be set free to await trial.
The timing of the decision is troubling.
Cook County terminated the feeds just one day before the state Supreme Court will decide if Illinois can eliminate cash bail.
Without live streaming, there's no way to know what happened during a detention hearing unless you go to the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in person or buy a transcript.
It's a major step backward for criminal justice transparency. But you can make a difference.
How your contribution will help
Your contribution to the Cook County Courtroom Transparency Fund will be used exclusively to purchase official transcripts of important criminal court detention hearings.
CWBChicago will use the transcripts to report about what happened in important hearings, including the allegations made, input and arguments provided by the accused person's attorney, and the judge's thoughts on the case, including their bail decision.
Even better: CWBChicago will match every dollar you contribute, doubling the power of your investment!
That means your contribution will go twice as far, ensuring that the public has access to the information it needs to hold our elected officials accountable.
What you can expect
You can expect full transparency as we utilize the Cook County Courtroom Transparency Fund. We will openly publish an accounting of how every single dollar is spent, giving you full confidence that your investment is being used as intended.
We will also provide you with regular updates, including exactly which transcripts we have purchased with the Fund and the stories we have been able to tell as a result of your contribution.
How much do transcripts cost?
In our experience, an expedited transcript for one felony bail hearing costs $65 to $85, depending on length.
If the state eliminates cash bail, detention hearings under the new law are expected to be significantly longer. So, the price of a transcript will increase accordingly.
Your contribution matters
If you believe an informed public is a better public, then please support the Cook County Courtroom Transparency Fund today.
Contributions are NOT tax-deductible.
Thank you for your support!