For the third set of speakers in our Myths of Public Safety: Pretrial speaker series we invited Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr., Cook County Public Defender and Will Tanzman, Executive Director of The People’s Lobby, a member of the Illinois Coalition to End Money Bond and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice. In January 2021, the Illinois Legislature passed the Pretrial Fairness Act, a slate of reforms set to take effect in January 2023 as part of the SAFE-T Act. Among other provisions, the Act abolishes money bond, limits eligibility for pretrial incarceration, ensures that risk assessment tools cannot be the sole basis for pretrial incarceration, increases the possibility of release in lieu of arrest and release prior to a first court appearance, and reduces penalties for violations of pretrial release conditions.

Even though these provisions have not yet taken effect, advocates are already facing a coordinated campaign arguing that the new law will undermine—or even has somehow already undermined—public safety. Falsehoods about what the law does as well as myths about its foreseeable effects are flying in online forums, on social media, in local news, and in major newspapers. Fighting this disinformation puts advocates on the defensive, as the narrative that jail produces safety maintains its intuitive appeal in the public square. We asked our panelists: how do you build strong campaigns to protect evidence-based reforms from being rolled back before they’ve even had a chance to work? Are there ways to preempt the forces of retrenchment which are fighting to keep the status quo in place?


Links to resources mentioned during the event

You can read more about the SAFE-T Act and the Pretrial Fairness Act in particular on the Coalition's website:

For more on the research on the harms of pretrial detention:

Youi can see an example of the fake newspaper here:

For thoughts about the impacts on real people of electronic monitoring, check out this research by Sandra Susan Smith - which builds on a lot of prior work including by folks like James Kilgore and the Chicago Community Bond Fund:

Here's the Loyola research Sharone mentioned:

Here are the Chicago Appleseed resources on pretrial fairness:

On that Civic Federation report:



Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr.Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr. is the Cook County (IL) Public Defender. He is a passionate advocate for the rights of everyone represented by the Public Defender's office and for reform to increase justice in the legal system and to keep communities safe. He was nominated by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Cook County Board and was sworn into Office on April 1, 2021 for a six-year term as Public Defender.

Mitchell began his legal career in the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, first working as a clerk in law school and later as an assistant public defender with assignments in the Civil, First Municipal, and Felony Trial Divisions. The Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender is one of the largest unified public defender offices in the nation with nearly 700 employees, a budget of approximately $80 million, and 23 divisions and units. 

In 2016, Mitchell joined the Illinois Justice Project (ILJP), a policy reform organization dedicated to supporting people, programs, and policies that can reduce inappropriate incarceration, improve community safety outcomes, reduce recidivism and increase justice in the legal system. Mitchell became Director of ILJP in 2019 and solidified its reputation as one of the state's leading criminal justice reform non-profits.

Mitchell has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his law degree from DePaul University College of Law. A lifelong resident of Chicago, he grew up in the West Pullman neighborhood and is a Morgan Park High School graduate.

Will TanzmanWill Tanzman is Executive Director of The People’s Lobby, a membership-driven organization of people across the Chicago region who work together to build widespread support for public policies and candidates that put racial and gender justice and the needs of people and the planet before the interests of big corporations and the very rich. He is also a member of the Illinois Coalition to End Money Bond and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice. Will has been organizing since 1999 and has been an organizer with The People’s Lobby and its predecessor organizations since 2008. Will’s accomplishments include organizing The People’s Lobby’s successful campaign to raise the minimum wage in a number of Cook County suburbs from $8.25 to $13 and leading a campaign of mass actions and civil disobedience that played a major role in the closure of $125 million in corporate tax loopholes in Illinois. Will grew up in Chicago and began organizing as a high school student in the Chicago Public Schools, where he started an organization of students across the state working for a more just education system, successfully changing citywide standardized testing policies and practices. Will also serves as Council President at First Lutheran Church of the Trinity in the Bridgeport community.



Katy Naples-MitchellKaty Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, is the moderator of  the Myths of  Public Safety speaker series.





Katy Naples-MitchellSandra Susan SmithThe Myths of  Public Safety speaker series is organized by Katy Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, and  Sandra Susan Smith, Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice; Faculty Director, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management; Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy; Professor of Sociology; and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute.