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Case Study M. H.

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Charge: Theft of 2 plums and 3 candy bars

Days in Jail: 135

Cost to taxpayers: $19,305

  • M.H., who is 30-years-old, was most recently brought into the Cook County Jail in July, homeless and pregnant, after being arrested on charges that she allegedly stole two plums and three chocolate bars from a Save-a-Lot.
  • The police report for that arrest gives M.H.’s motive: “She took the food because she is pregnant, and she was hungry.”
  • She was on probation at the time for a similar retail theft conviction from April 2014. In that case, she was arrested for attempting to steal $30 worth of cosmetics from CVS. She spent 27 days in jail before being released on probation, costing taxpayers more than $3,500.
  • The new Save-a-Lot retail theft charge was eventually dropped but a Violation of Probation charge was added. She was released on an I-Bond and was ordered to appear in court two days later for the Violation of Probation. When she did not appear in court, a warrant was issued for her arrest. In August 2014, police were called when M.H. refused to pay a CTA bus fare. A name search revealed the active warrant, and she was booked back into the jail
  • This fall, while in custody, M.H. delivered her baby girl. Following a brief hospitalization, M.H. was returned to the jail and her newborn was placed in foster care.
  • On Jan. 7, 2015, M.H. was sentenced to IDOC for the first time for the theft charge in the case of the cosmetics worth $30. She had spent 135 days in jail custody before being sentenced to prison. She was released on parole on Feb. 20. She spent a little more than a month in IDOC.
  • M.H. was homeless and 6 months pregnant at the time of this July arrest. On November 11th, Veterans Day, she delivered her baby in the Cook County Jail and named her Miracle. Following a brief hospitalization, M.H. was returned to the jail and Miracle was placed in foster care.
  • In all, M.H. has been booked into the Cook County Jail five times on 14 arrests, nearly all of them for similar crimes of survival. M.H.’s 167 days in Cook County Jail over the last year for retail theft-related charges has cost taxpayers at least $23,000 and that doesn’t include extra medical and court expenses.
  • Of her 14 arrests, nine resulted in court action/custodial time. Between July 1, 2013 and Aug. 20, 2014, M.H. spent a total of 221 days in Cook County Jail at a housing cost of more than $50,000.

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