Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today the formation of the Judicial Advisory Council (JAC), an agency under the Office of the President charged with the coordination and reform on the Cook County criminal justice system.
The JAC will pursue President Preckwinkle’s campaign promise and long-standing priority of reforming the criminal justice system, with the overarching goal of reducing the jail population while increasing public safety.
“My top priority is to increase efficiency by reducing the non-violent offender population in the County jails and improve the re-entry process to lower the recidivism rate,” President Preckwinkle said. “In pursuing these objectives it is imperative to remember that each of the stakeholders and offices that work in criminal justice has an equally important and unique role to play. That being said, I’d remind everyone that we also operate in a larger context; one that impacts families, neighborhoods, and society as a whole. Each stake holder must remember how their individual mission fits into this larger context.”
The Judicial Advisory Council will work with all of the stakeholders, independent elected officials, the City, and community based organizations to develop and implement a number of specific strategic efforts. It will aim to improve the flow of information at bond court to reduce the number of people detained on bond and increase the use of electronic monitoring to allow people to maintain employment and continue in school. Overall, it intends to improve access to diversion programs within the Jail and the Court system to provide people with substance abuse treatment and treatment for mental illness.
The JAC will also coordinate the public safety measures under the STAR initiative, with input from the community, to promote efficient and effective government through the Countywide goals of reducing the jail population and cost, reduce the time to trial, promote reintegration to the community, reduce crime and promoting fair and equitable access to justice.
To lead the Judicial Advisory Council, Preckwinkle has appointed Juliana Stratton. Stratton is an attorney with more than 19 years of mediation and arbitration experience in the private and public sectors. As Director of the JAC, Stratton shares President Preckwinkle’s priorities towards reforming the criminal justice system.
“President Preckwinkle understands the interconnectedness of the criminal justice system and the need to change policies and practices in a broad way,” Stratton said. “We will hear from all stakeholders to determine the best solutions, and we will leave no stone unturned. I’m eager to head up a team that will oversee this important and much needed effort.”
President Preckwinkle also appointed attorney Rebecca Janowitz as Legislative Coordinator. Previously Janowitz was the Director of Re-Entry Policy in the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.