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Thu Feb 8, 2018, 10:43 AM

ACLU: Lavette's Choice

Source: ACLU

Thirty seconds. That’s how long it took for a Cook County judge to eyeball the silenced woman standing before him and set the price of her freedom. Thirty seconds.

It was early March and 45-year-old Lavette Mayes had just spent three days in a Chicago lock-up. She was ill-prepared for cell block weather, and she froze those first couple of days in a loose hospital gown pulled tight over her own thin nightgown, a pair of pants, and old house shoes. After begging the guards, they allowed her sister to bring a coat, buttons cut-off, and white K-Swiss gym shoes. Even so, Mayes, who grew up on the South Side, says, “I was in no kind of condition to stand in front of a judge, not even with my face washed.”

The biggest life change that Mayes anticipated in 2015 was an end to her 23-year-marriage. She was going through a bitter divorce. But nothing could have prepared the mother of two to spend the next 14 months without seeing or touching her 5-year-old son, and 14-year-old daughter again — all because she could not afford pretrial bond. All of them bore the heavy weight of a judge’s decision to set bail at $250,000, which meant pay 10 percent down to go home with electronic monitoring.

“My children were just as incarcerated as I was with me being gone,” she says.



Read more: https://www.aclu.org/blog/mass-incarceration/smart-justice/lavettes-choice

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