Cook County logo. WTIP file photo
WTIP file photo

Cook County Equity in Justice Initiative asks for feedback on criminal justice system

The Equity in Justice Initiative (EJI) is an advisory group created in 2020 with a mission to discover, acknowledge and build awareness about what inequities exist in the local justice system and to create equity in Cook County for all.

The group is a collaboration between Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken and Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen. It also includes criminal justice professionals, advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence and representatives from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

The group first met in August 2020. According to EJI representatives, their vision is “to create solutions to inequities in criminal justice through community awareness, dialogue, educational opportunities, and recommendations for change.”

To engage their vision with the community, EJI is asking for feedback on the local criminal justice via a survey. The survey elicits anonymous responses in an effort to collect the most honest and comprehensive feedback from the maximum number of participants who have interacted with criminal justice in Cook County.

Any person with experience in Cook County’s system is asked to respond. This includes not just defendants, crime victims, and jurors, but also people who interact with the system as part of their jobs.

Respondents are asked both to share their opinions and to share the survey with friends and neighbors who have experience with the justice system in Cook County. Responding to the survey will take most people less than 15 minutes. The survey closes to responses April 13.

To complete the survey:

Click here for an online anonymous survey.

• For a version of the survey you can print, click here.

• Pick up printed surveys at one of four locations, including the Clearview General Store, Trailcenter, Grand Portage Trading Post or the Cook County Courthouse.

• Submit completed paper surveys using a secure drop box at one of the above-listed locations or by mailing to Cook County at 411 W. Second Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604.

Hicken said the survey is “an important first step toward identifying problems that exist in our county’s criminal justice system. Then we can begin to talk about solutions.”

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with the county attorney to learn more about EJI and the survey. Listen to the audio below to hear their interview.