Under the direction of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Justice Advisory Council (JAC) is charged with the coordination and implementation of the President’s criminal and juvenile justice reform efforts and public safety policy development. The specific goals of the JAC include working collaboratively with the county’s public safety stakeholders towards the specific goals of safely reducing the population of the Cook County Jail and Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center while preserving public safety, reducing recidivism, and promoting fair and equitable access to justice.
The Justice Advisory Council (“JAC”) consists of the department that is under the President’s Office, as well as an advisory board, also known as the Justice Advisory Council (hereinafter “the Council”).
The JAC was historically a “grants clearinghouse,” ensuring that federal grant funds relating to public safety were distributed to various County agencies and municipalities. While the office still carries out this function, President Preckwinkle has revised the focus of the JAC to be the central office responsible for helping to coordinate her criminal and juvenile justice reform agenda. The office—staffed by an Executive Director, Special Assistant for Legal Affairs, Program Coordinator, Grants Coordinator, and Administrative Assistant—carries out the overarching goals of reducing the jail and the juvenile detention center population while preserving public safety. The JAC is designed to work collaboratively with the Cook County criminal justice constellation which includes the State’s Attorney, the Public Defender, the Office of the Chief Judge, the Sheriff, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court, as well as with local and state governmental agencies and community organizations.
Per Illinois Statute and County Ordinance, the Council is an advisory body comprised of five (5) members of the Judiciary and field of law who are charged with devising, “means to effect the improvement of the administration of justice in and with relation to the county, and to formulate all proper suggestions and recommendations concerning legislation and other measures designed to bring about such improvement.” 55 ILCS 5/5-18002. The members of the council will examine the Cook County criminal justice system as a whole and make suggestions and recommendations relating to legislation and other measures to help improve the functioning of the system and to ensure a fair and equitable process for those in contact with the system.
The mission of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council is to work collaboratively with key stakeholders in the County’s criminal and juvenile justice system to reduce the population of the Cook County Jail and Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, while ensuring systematic and community supports to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
Our vision is an institutional reconfiguration of the Cook County criminal justice system whereby only violent offenders and those that are a risk to society remain in the Cook County Jail, while non-violent offenders are increasingly and uniformly offered opportunities to be reintegrated into society in a way that best meets their needs and ensures public safety. We envision Cook County being a national model for court diversion programs which properly assesses as early as possible the low-risk offenders which should properly be redirected to and supported by community-based programs (e.g., substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, educational, job training) supported by electronic monitoring and proactive probation services.
This vision is supported by the philosophical notion that collaboration is based on a common goal of the criminal and juvenile justice stakeholders to improve the efficiency of the system, understanding that shared decision-making requires good-faith participation and engagement towards that common goal. At the core is the understanding that the County should spend less of its budget on incarceration, which de-stabilizes families and communities, and more on properly assessing and supporting those who could return to their families and communities at little to no risk to overall public safety.
Illinois Statute (55ILCS 5/5-18001 et. seq.) and Cook County Ordinance (Chapter 5, Section 161-163) empower the Judicial Advisory Council to devise means to effect the improvement of administration of justice in and with relation to the County, and to formulate all proper suggestions and recommendations concerning legislation and other measures designed to bring about such improvement.
Office of the President
69 W. Washington