LAVETTE MAYES

Chicago Community Bond Fund

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SOUTH SHORE

I was arrested for the first time after an altercation with my mother-in-law, while I was in the midst of a divorce. During my bond court hearing, the judge spent less than one minute reviewing my case before setting the bail at $250,000. I spent more than a year in Cook County Jail, because I was unable to pay the $25,000 needed to get out. During that time I lost everything; I lost my home, my business, my car, and my family. I missed important milestones for my two children, ages six and 15.

"People should not be denied justice and punished because they are poor."

I later received assistance from the Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) to post my bail.  However, upon release I was electronically monitored. I eventually pleaded guilty to the charge I faced, because it would take another year and a half for my case to go to trial. The idea of not being able to walk my children to school, to go to work, and to fully live my life for another year and a half was unbearable. I was sentenced to one day in prison as the length of time I spent in pretrial detainment and electronic monitoring exceeded my prison sentence by four months. Because I took the plea deal, I now I have a record which makes securing employment and housing nearly impossible.

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I feel like I’m still being punished. By getting involved with the CCBF and the Coalition to End Money Bail, I am able to share my story and inform polices that will affect thousands of individuals like me who are wasting away in Cook County Jail because they are too poor to pay their bail. People should not be denied justice and punished because they are poor. As a leader with CCBF, I am fighting to eliminate the use of money bail and reduce pretrial detention in Illinois.