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Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney Election and Accountability: From Protest to Power

Resource type: Case Study

Barsoum Policy Consulting |

Cook County, Illinois, was one of the first jurisdictions to focus on electing a progressive prosecutor—a criminal justice reform strategy now being used across the United States. Kim Foxx was elected in 2016, becoming the first African American woman to serve as Cook County state’s attorney.

Chicago’s rich field of grassroots organizations played an important role in channeling community anger toward electoral action, and then exerting power to hold Foxx accountable to community priorities. This case study highlights, in particular, the work of The People’s Lobby (TPL) and its partners as they shifted from electoral organizing to accountability advocacy and engaged impacted communities in co-governing with the state’s attorney.

Cook County’s experience demonstrates how electing a progressive prosecutor is just the beginning of the work and that communities play important roles in shaping and guiding the reforms.

This case study was commissioned by the Civic Participation Action Fund, an Atlantic grantee.