Cook County bail bond refunds badly delayed, pastor says; clerk's office blames understaffing

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Cook County bail bond refunds badly delayed, pastor says
The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County said understaffing has caused major delays in refund bail bonds in the usual 4 to 6 week period.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In Cook County you're supposed to get a refund on a bail bonds four to six weeks after your case is closed, no matter the outcome. But one local pastor says wait times have been much longer and getting that money back is no easy task.

"Some people have to scrape money together just to get their loved ones out of jail," said Pastor Richard Redmond.

In November 2021, his family members paid $100 in bail for their son. The domestic case was dismissed in April of 2022. In Cook Country, when a case ends you're entitled to a bail refund within four to six weeks, so Redmond called the county's Clerk of the Circuit Court.

"They told me they can't give me an answer when the money will be returned," Redmond said.

It took more than a year after the case was dismissed for Redmond to get his money back. He ended up getting a refund check for $90 this past July from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. $10 was taken out for a processing fee.

Redmond was also waiting months on another bail bond refund from a February of 2023 case in the amount of $500. Redmond said that trespass case, also against his son, ended in April when his son agreed to serve probation.

After the I-Team got involved, Redmond received a check for $450 of the $500 dollars he was owed, minus fees.

After our inquiries, a spokesperson from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County told the I-Team that the office identified more than 500 bonds, "currently in process to be released."

"We took office in January of 2021 and came right into a yearlong situation with COVID-19 and our offices experienced staffing issues," the clerk's office said. "The situation with this bond case was human error and we fixed the situation so it does not happen again."

The spokesperson went on to say that offices were so understaffed that Clerk Iris Martinez had to hire 517 new employees and recently opened a new customer service center.

The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County said the office is committed avoiding delays and giving people refunds within a reasonable timeframe.

If you're having an issue getting a bond refund, you should use the clerk's new Customer Service Center, which can help people in up to 200 languages.