Robinson v. Martin

Cash Bail

The MacArthur Justice Center partnered with Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. and Civil Rights Corps to file a federal class action targeting Cook County’s unconstitutional pay-for-release cash bail system, which results in the pre-trial detention of legally innocent men and women who cannot afford to pay the court-imposed bail amount in their cases. The case, recently dismissed on technical, procedural grounds, helped to catalyze important reforms in Cook County.

Filed - October 16, 2016

At the end of 2017, more than 3,200 people were detained in the Cook County Jail because they could not pay for their freedom.


During the first three months of 2018, more than 25% all defendants appearing in bond court received a cash bond – almost half were unable to post the bond. Source

Key Developments

In response to community demands and the pending litigation, Chief Judge Evans signed General Order 18.8A, which went into effect in September 2017.  It includes a presumption against money bond, and requires that judges set the bond at an amount individuals can afford.  As a result, the rate of pretrial release almost doubled, and the use of monetary bond dropped by half. The Cook County Jail population fell to its lowest level in decades