The Crusader Newspaper Group

Wilson’s task force asks Rauner to help free detainees

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

In a bold move, humanitarian and philanthropist, Dr. Willie Wilson, and his task force met with Gov. Bruce Rauner over the weekend to talk about his proposed bail bond program needed to free low-level, non-violent detainees in Cook County Jail.

But, he also wants the governor to free up funds for a number of not-for-profits that deal in prison ministries so the detainees will have wrap-around services awaiting them. This, Wilson said, is critical to preventing recidivism.

The bail bond program Wilson hopes to take statewide is part of his mission to bail out 100 detainees from jail by Thanksgiving, take them to Rev. Marshall Hatch’s church—New Mount Pilgrim MBC, 4301 W. Washington—for a sit-down, full-course holiday meal where Wilson said he will give each of the detainees $200.

In meeting with Rauner and his staff in Springfield Friday, Wilson was joined by Cook County Comm. Richard Boykin (1st); and State Reps. LaShawn Ford (D-8) and Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-34).

Wilson talked to Rauner about a bill he is introducing that says he does not want anyone to be arrested for a misdemeanor and to allow them to I-bond out.

He wants the governor to fund the not-for-profits that deal with prison ministry “so when they get out of jail, they can find jobs, have a place to sleep and have food. The funding of these organizations is critical. Their budgets were cut last year and they need to be refunded, so they can start back serving the community,” Wilson said.

Wilson is again meeting this week with representatives of 75 not-for-profit organizations whose budgets were cut. “We are meeting with the governor’s staff to make sure they understand the situation and the dollars that are needed to restore those services,” said Wilson.

Wilson is using $50,000 of his own money to bail out 100 detainees and said Rauner will be with him on Thanksgiving Day at Hatch’s church to talk about the bail bond program and to break bread with the former detainees.

Wilson said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has expressed concerns that people could not be released unless they could identify a family member, a halfway house or other places where they would be staying while awaiting trial.

“I’ve asked the churches to seek places for people to sleep and form a committee of clergy to figure out other barriers keeping people in jail unnecessarily,” Wilson added.

While walking downtown on Friday, Wilson gave away crisp $100 bills, and within 20 minutes, he had given away up to $4,000. “We do this all the time,” he explained.

To donate to Wilson’s program to free non-violent detainees, go to: or text “Give 25” or any other amount to 312.818.4975; follow the prompts and register your credit or debit card (first time only). For additional information, contact the Foundation, 708.782.4027.

“I am grateful for your support,” Wilson said. “Your donation will help young men and women get their lives back on track. We are seeking contributions from churches as well as other forms of charity. I need to focus on raising money. That’s my job. We encourage the pastors also to please help us with these funds by encouraging their people to donate a small amount each month. Everyone else needs to spend two to four hours a month finding people a place to get a GED, a place to sleep or get a job.”

A deacon at his church, Wilson quoted Hebrews 10:34 saying, “For you showed sympathy and deep concern for those who were imprisoned, and you joyfully accepted the (unjust).”



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