When You Can't Afford Bail


Karen Emberton spent 44 days in McLean County jail before she could argue why she didn't belong there. Charged with the low-level felony of filing a false police report, Emberton, 51, couldn't afford $325 bail or legal assistance.

She was one of many inmates whose cases have aroused concern that local jails in this southern Illinois county are overcrowded with accused individuals awaiting trial on minor offenses, often for longer than the average 30-day stay.

Edith Brady-Lunny, a crime reporter for The Pantagraph in Bloomington, Ill., writes in a series of stories that such cases have led to the development of a county-wide pre-trial services program that has begun to address the problem.

Brady-Lunny, a 2012 John Jay/Public Welfare Foundation Reporting Fellow, researched the stories as part of her Fellowship Project. Please read her main story HERE, and a sidebar on the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council set up to oversee the program HERE.

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