The Crusader Newspaper Group

Bill aims to keep non-violent offenders out of jail

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

For months Dr. Willie Wilson has bailed out dozens of people who have languished in the Cook County Jail for misdemeanor offenses because they could not afford the bond. Wilson recently learned support may be on the way in the form of a legislative solution not only in Chicago, but also throughout the state.

Wilson has campaigned to have legislation introduced that would stop the current process. On February 15, 2017, a bill was introduced in the Illinois House and Senate.

“If you commit a misdemeanor crime, you do not have to go to jail to wait on a judge for sentencing,” Dr. Wilson said. “You won’t have to go to jail if you don’t have bond money.

“It is wrong to discriminate and that is what has been going on,” he said. “If you have money and you commit a crime, you don’t go to jail but if you don’t have money, you go straight to jail, and that is discrimination,” said Dr. Wilson. “This should not be.

“This is important to me because there are many people in jail who have lost their jobs and maybe their homes all because they don’t have money to meet their bond.

“If you are in jail, how can you pay your bills, your rent…”? Their incarceration is a hardship. Many of them have families who don’t even know they are in jail,” he said.

“I want to stop this and I will spend a lot of money to get it done,” said Wilson, who is a multi-millionaire/humanitarian. He vowed to flood social media and have lobbying done in Springfield.

Wilson had Rep. Elgie Sims (D-34th) to introduce HB 3717 and Senator Donne Trotter (D-17th) introduced SB 552.

“We are crafting a TV commercial and hope it will pass by May. The governor supports me and my efforts,” said Wilson referring to Gov. Bruce Rauner. “We meet with him each month. He is on board with the spirit of the bill. He supports people not going to jail for misdemeanors.”

Over the Christmas holiday, Dr. Wilson and his wife, Janette, fed more than 200 homeless people at the Pacific Garden Mission and gave them $50 to $100 each.

His campaign goal in 2017 is to free 1,000 Cook County Jail detainees.

Wilson is hosting a fundraiser at 3 p.m. on April 16th, Greater Harvest Church, 5141 S. State Street. We will have those we’ve bailed present. We are going to get this done,” said Wilson explaining the funds would be used to release more non-violent detainees from the Cook County Jail.

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