Sherriff Tom Dart Supports Plan to Wipe Out Minor Warrants after 5 Years

More than half of the 41,000 warrants on the books in Cook County are at least a decade old — and they can come back to haunt people who have moved on with their lives, according to the sheriff’s office.

Someone stopped for a traffic violation can end up in jail for weeks without bond until a judge resolves a warrant issued decades earlier, said Cara Smith, chief of policy for Sheriff Tom Dart.

“We see this all the time,” Smith said.

Dart supports legislation requiring that warrants expire five years after they’re issued. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Arthur Turner, D-Chicago, wouldn’t apply retroactively. But with nearly 15,000 warrants issued in 2016 alone, it could help reduce the backlog in the future, sheriff’s officials say.

Turner’s bill recently passed the House Judiciary Criminal Committee but has yet to be voted on by the full House.

Most warrants are resolved quickly, but the huge volume of them leaves tens of thousands on the books for decades, according to the sheriff’s office. Continue Reading

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