CannonDesign’s recent work with Cook County to redesign their Central Bond Court to make it more just and equitable for defendants is profiled in a new piece from Fast Company: Can A Redesigned Courtroom Make the Justice System More Just?
The article highlights the fact that, “life can change in bond court” and that up until now, Cook County’s Central Bond Court has been a poorly designed, busy, distraction-prone place. Our team became involved in helping solve these challenges through our partnership with Civic Consulting Alliance when a former judge and justice began gathering stakeholders to create a better bond court for the county. Their goal was to create a better environment in Cook County and set an example for how bond courts should be designed across the country.
Below are brief excerpts and the full story can be read online.
On the complex realities in the courtroom
“It’s only a 2,000 sf room, but you have hundreds of people’s immediate – or unfortunately, longer-term futures – being decided just in that one space,” said Emma Cuciurean-Zapan. “Interacting are up to nine different state and local agencies in that room, in about 37 seconds.”
The courtroom was originally designed for regular trials, not bond hearings. A giant jury box takes up much of the space, even though there isn’t a jury. The placement of the judge’s bench, at an awkward angle in the corner, makes it hard for family members in the audience to hear what’s happening. A constant stream of people walk through the courtroom, disrupting proceedings. The many parties involved in a hearing aren’t well arranged.”
On courtrooms across the country
As the designers researched bond courts around the country, most had some similar problems.
“What we found was that most of them were in one way or another just like the one we addressed here in Cook County,” says Timothy Swanson, who leads CannonDesign’s Chicago office. “That is, they were a regular courtroom that had just been repurposed to handle the bond process. The reality is this space was not defined or designed for the way it’s being used right now.”