FY 2016




Building a better bond court
This October marks two years since Civic Consulting Alliance and our partners began helping to address issues in Cook County's criminal justice system, including revamping Cook County Central Bond Court. We have been working with Cook County's criminal justice Stakeholders ---  the Cook County Board President, Sheriff, Chief Judge, State's Attorney, Public Defender, Clerk, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, and the Illinois Supreme Court ---  to reduce the detainment of non-violent individuals.
As a result of this collaboration, 2,400 fewer people are detained every day in Cook County Jail and nearly half of all individuals are released from Bond Court without having to post a money bail, compared to Bond Court proceedings two years ago.
This collaboration has included seven projects and eight partners since its start. As one example, this summer, CannonDesign, in partnership with Civic Consulting and the Kellogg School of Management, worked with the Stakeholders and former detainees to understand the challenges created by the current physical design of the courtroom.

The team identified several factors that prevent judges from receiving the information needed to make well-informed, fair decisions and that limit the public's understanding of court proceedings.  CannonDesign then created designs to address the physical problems and transform the courtroom into an environment that commands dignity and decorum and facilitates better decision-making.


The Stakeholders all agreed to the proposed changes, and construction of the new courtroom is scheduled to begin later this year.

By changing the physical courtroom design, we hope to improve trust and mutual respect between everyone in the courtroom, ensure judges receive the information they need to make fair bond decisions, and ultimately improve outcomes for detainees.

"The redesign of the Central Bond Court presented us with a compelling, challenging design problem, which affects many of our fellow citizens on a daily basis," said Delia Conache, a project architect at CannonDesign. "Our team greatly enjoyed the close partnership with Civic Consulting Alliance over the course of the project, as well as the close collaboration with the stakeholder agencies involved."

For more information on this project, please contact Asheley Van Ness.

Protecting Cook County's natural heritage for the next century
As the oldest and largest forest preserve in the nation, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County provides education, relaxation, and recreation to millions of County residents and visitors each year while protecting nearly 70,000 acres of open space. In 2014, the District released its Next Century Conservation Plan, an ambitious blueprint to make Cook County a national leader in urban conservation. Implementing the Plan would require significant financial resources, and the District needed to determine how to bring the vision to life while working within its budget. To do so, the District asked Civic Consulting Alliance for help in analyzing a viable path towards implementation.
Civic Consulting, in partnership with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, identified and assessed initiatives for alignment with the District's mission, feasibility, and  financial impact over a 25-year horizon. The team then developed a scenario-planning framework by identifying forest preserves across the country facing similar challenges, thus helping the District visualize different models for what the next century could look like.

The Civic Consulting-Booth team used the scenario-planning framework to facilitate a workshop for the District's Conservation and Policy Council. Discussing peer models helped to focus the conversation and allowed the District to prioritize implementation initiatives in a holistic manner. As a result of this work, the Forest Preserve can implement the Next Century Conservation Plan in a way that aligns with its mission and financial capacity.

"Civic Consulting Alliance's external perspective added a new level of rigor and depth to our Council's discussion," said Forest Preserve Superintendent Arnold Randall. "For an organization that thinks in terms of decades, this work will improve our strategic decision-making for a very long time."

For more information on this project, please contact Andy Schwarm.

In other news...
  • The Cook County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance this month requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to workers in companies of all sizes. As a result, more than 420,000 suburban workers who currently lack paid time off when ill will receive this benefit starting in July 2017. Extending the paid sick leave benefit to the County enacts a central policy recommendation of Chicago's Working Families Task Force, which Civic Consulting supported last year under the leadership of Board member Anne Ladky. Similar legislation was passed in June by Chicago's City Council.
  • Earlier this year, Civic Consulting supported the Police Accountability Task Force, which provided a blueprint to rejuvenate trust between Chicago's police and the communities they serve. Chief among the Task Force's recommendations was the need to replace the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). This month, Chicago's City Council voted to establish a new Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), which will replace IPRA as a civilian-controlled agency charged with investigating incidents of serious police misconduct. The ordinance represents an important step towards creating real and lasting transparency, accountability, and change.

Questions? Comments? Interested in writing a guest article? Please email  Leslie Glotzer .

Civic Consulting Alliance is an affiliate of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.