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TheCircuit

Decoding
the Cook County
Court System

A data-driven collaboration to investigate and reveal how Cook County’s courts work.

Data highlights leniency of ex-officer Jason Van Dyke’s murder sentence

An analysis of court data by Injustice Watch shows that Judge Vincent Gaughan’s sentence for Van Dyke was unusually light for the judge and more lenient than the average sentences that other Cook County judges have given for second-degree murder convictions.

The Costly Toll of Dead-End Drug Arrests

In Chicago, thousands of drug possession arrests are tossed out every year because of an unwritten rule in the courts, a Better Government Association/Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found. The cost to taxpayers? Millions. To those arrested? Jobs, housing, freedom.

Oregon Is First State to Ticket Narcotics Users, but New Reform Has Yet To Live Up To Promise

In Illinois, possession of even trace amounts of heroin residue is a felony. But in Oregon, it’s not a crime at all any more. Instead, people caught with drugs get a ticket. Oregon’s new drug reform is keeping users out of jail — but the goal of getting them help for their addictions has been elusive.

Kim Foxx’s Ex-Trainer Caught Up in ‘Unending Cycle’ of Drug Arrests

Drug issue hits every corner of Cook County. ‘It breaks my heart,’ the state’s attorney says.

Dead-End Drug Arrests: How We Reported This Story

The BGA and Chicago Sun-Times analyzed 280,000 total drug possession arrests made in Cook County over nearly two decades. The data used was provided by The Circuit, the collaborative journalistic enterprise led by the BGA and Injustice Watch.

Fewer people in Cook County are being charged with crimes. Why are Black people making up a larger share of defendants?

We broke down the data on specific charges and asked experts to explain why racial disparities are increasing in Cook County criminal court.

The history and harm behind Illinois’s criminal HIV transmission law

Injustice Watch and the Chicago Reader examined the origins of Illinois’s HIV transmission law, how Cook County prosecutors have leveraged it, and its impacts on people charged.

The Charges

A detailed breakdown visualizing more than 3 million criminal cases filed in Cook County between 2000 and 2018.

Meet the Cook County judge attorneys least want to appear before

Judge Diane Gordon Cannon criticized for verbal outbursts, a pro-prosecution bent and jailing of probationers for sometimes-minor infractions.

A veteran Cook County judge has been repeatedly blocked from hearing sex offense cases. Here’s why.

An unprecedented investigation of court data finds systematic effort to keep Judge James Linn from deciding sex charges after a controversial ruling he made years ago.