Businessman Bails Men Out Of Jail To Bring Them Home For the Holidays
Businessman and entrepreneur Willie Wilson wants to bring at least 100 people home for Thanksgiving and the holiday season who are stuck in Chicago’s Cook County Jail because they can’t post bond.
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The former mayoral candidate has a plan to raise $100,000 from community members to help people charged with nonviolent crimes post bond for the holiday who otherwise couldn’t.
Wilson has owned and operated several different McDonald’s restaurant franchises and owns Omar Medical Supplies, which imports and distributes latex gloves and other medical and safety supplies and equipment. He also produces the nationally syndicated gospel music television program “Singsation” which won an Emmy Award in 2012.
The reason why he’s doing it is simple: Wilson got to experience how jail time affects families first hand.
“I had two sons in jail,” Wilson said. “When they came out, they came out hardened in their attitudes.”
He said one of his sons was later violently killed at the age of 20, and he doesn’t want other parents to see a similar transformation in their children.
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Wilson said he would personally contribute $50,000 and was looking for others in the business and religious community to contribute the rest.
Organizers helping Wilson with his effort said they are starting to identify people jailed because they can’t afford a very modest bond while awaiting trial.
“We’ve had guys in there for two years because they couldn’t come up with $200,” said Gregory Livingston, who is heading the project.
Wilson established the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation to fund his prison reform efforts and said he would reveal all donations and all recipients of money on the foundation’s website.
Wilson said as the bond money is returned to people for showing up at their court dates as ordered, his hope is it will cycle through the foundation again to help more people post their bond.
Wilson said he was seeking contributions from churches as well as other forms of charity.
Since conditions specify that inmates would not be released unless they could identify a family member, halfway house or…