Increasingly the [Cook County] jail is warehousing defendants who simply can't afford to leave. And taxpayers simply can't afford to keep them there. At a time Chicago continues to make international headlines for violence, officials estimate that tens of millions of dollars are spent each year jailing people who pose few risks to the public, limiting resources for crime prevention and rehabilitation.
If anyone needed a warning that the jail population is getting out of hand, it came late last summer. On August 20 Cook County sheriff Tom Dart announced that the inmate count had climbed to 10,182, its highest level in six years.