Cook County, IL – This week, local businessman Willie Wilson is going to the Cook County Jail with $15,000 to bail out inmates with misdemeanor charges.
“I’m not doing this for political reasons. These are people who are in jail because they can’t come up with $100 or $200 in bail bond money. These aren’t serious criminals — it’s folks who got caught with a small bag of marijuana or who were hungry and stole some food from the store,” Wilson said.
Surprisingly, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is actually supporting Wilson’s plan.
Working with Wilson, the Sheriff has provided him with a list of the inmates who have the best chance of success on the outside.
“If I let you sit there you don’t have a chance to get a good education, get a job, or start your life over,” Wilson said.
“I can’t police them. All I can do is do a good deed and hope for the best. I’m trusting that they’ll make the right decision and understanding the situation,” he said.
“If we can save one out of a thousand, then it’s worth it,” he added.
In addition to getting them out of prison, Wilson will also be donating $200 cash to each inmate to help them get back on their feet.
“I want to bail out some of the men, white, Black and Asian. Some are there because they cannot pay a $50, $100 bond. Some are in jail because they stole food or may have had a fight. I have been giving money away to churches, but now I am paying bail bond money for non-violent people. I am hoping to get as many out of jail until 2017, and we will urge them to get a GED or if they are having substance abuse problems to seek rehab intervention,” Wilson said.
Next, Wilson plans on raising $200,000 for veterans and seniors to help pay their utility bills.