Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Tim Evans, chief judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, are caught up in a dispute about the effectiveness of Evans’ bail reform program and its possible contribution to the surge of violent crime in Chicago.

Lightfoot and Evans disagree about the effectiveness of ankle bracelets — also referred to as “electronic monitoring.” They’re used to track people accused of violent crimes on early release while they await trial.

Evans’ bail-reform program, implemented in 2017, seeks to reduce the jail population and reduce inequity in the criminal justice system by releasing the accused, binding an ankle with a device that tracks their movements and demanding they show up in court.

The mayor says too many of those people wind up committing violent crimes. She claims such shootings and killings were a key factor in the surge of homicides and other violent crime last year. At news conferences and in a letter, she is pressuring Evans to suspend the program.


David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.