Our Pledge To You


SNEED: Eric Holder joins fight to make Cook County bail system fair

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wants to make the county bail system more fair to the poor. | AP photo


It’s all about the money.

• Translation: Count former President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, among Cook County’s legal eagles labeling our bail bond system broken because it violates the rights of the poor.

Retained pro bono by Cook County Public Defender Amy J. Campanelli to assess Cook County’s bail bond practices, Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling, contends “it’s highly likely Cook County’s wealth-based approach to pretrial release violates the U.S. and Illinois constitutions as well as state law.”


Holder’s report cites a dramatic 1966 quote from President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

“The defendant with means can afford to pay bail. He can afford to buy his freedom. But the poorer defendant cannot pay the price. He languishes in jail weeks, months, and perhaps even years before trial.

“He does not stay in jail because he is guilty. He does not stay in jail because any sentence has been passed. He does not stay in jail because he is any more likely to flee before trial.

“He stays in jail for one reason only — he stays in jail because he is poor.”

Issued five days before Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans unveiled his plan, hatched in 2016, to get nonviolent people out of jail, Holder also argued the state’s pretrial detention system is unconstitutional because it largely jails people based on their inability to post bond.

On July 17, Evans ordered his bond court judges to steer away from a cash-for-bond system — which can violate the rights of the poor — and to release all defendants who pose no criminal danger to the public.

Sneed is told Evans, who also called for judges to stop issuing cash bonds for dangerous people, has yet to read the Holder report — and did not know of it before he unveiled his own report. “A copy of the Holder report was not sent to us until Monday of this week,” said an Evans spokesman.

Bail bond reform has also been embraced by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and other criminal justice stakeholders.

Dear John?

A note presented to ailing U.S. Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor Thursday by Dem U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was no “Dear John” letter stemming from a never-ending GOP-Dem dispute.

It was, in fact, a copy of the Chicago City Council resolution honoring McCain for his heroism — personally hand delivered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was in Washington, D.C., Thursday on city business.

Dear Donald?

This question continues to nag me.

Now that John McCain is battling brain cancer, do you — President Donald Trump — plan to apologize and rescind your odious claim McCain is not a war hero?

“He’s not a war hero,” you harrumphed during the presidential campaign . . . as well as: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” McCain was tortured and held prisoner at the infamous Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War.

What nags me is what you told me in an interview on Aug. 6, 2015.

• Sneed: “Candor can be powerful. But I certainly did not agree with your negative assessment of [U.S. Sen.] John McCain not being a Vietnam War hero because he was a POW.”

•Trump: “Why is that?”

• Sneed: “Well, because I have a little history there. I’ve been a reporter for nearly 48 years and covered the return of nine Marine POWs who were imprisoned at the Hanoi Hilton shortly after their release and return to Camp Pendleton in the early ’70s . . .  and they all talked about their reverence for McCain and his heroism.”

• Trump: “Oh.” (Pause.)

That was it. I notice you have not repeated the insult since.

But last week, when news broke McCain has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, you offered him prayers and support. “Senator John McCain has always been a fighter,” Trump said.

But you never did say you were sorry.

Sneedlings . . .

Today’s birthdays: Lori Loughlin, 53; Manu Ginobili, 40, and Dia Weil, ageless.