FOX 32 NEWS - Dozens of inmates in Cook County are walking free and it's all thanks to Chicago businessman Willie Wilson, who put up his own money to bail out complete strangers.
Former Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson bailed out 46 inmates Wednesday who couldn't afford their bail. The inmates were in the Cook County Jail for non-violent misdemeanors.
Wilson also bailed the inmates out to bring awareness to a jail system that often leaves the poor behind bars for petty crimes.
Wilson explained why many cannot afford their $100, $500 or $1000 bonds.
"I think the system discriminates against the poor. Not so much the color, but the poor. You don't have money, you can't get out. And that's just plain wrong,” Wilson said.
That’s why Wilson, along with several pastors, met with inmates to give them a chance they may not have had otherwise.
"It's such a relief, such a blessing to know that someone really cares about the people like he do,” said Jloria Jackson, whose son was released.
Jackson waited on her son, who she feels deserves an opportunity.
"Things happen like with family, crisis situations. Sometimes he's so right, it's not the worst thing, but there are things happening in our lives. And for someone to stay longer than what they should for the things that go on. I just really appreciate him,” Jackson said.
Her son also appreciates being given a chance.
“I think it's a good thing, for those, you know who are really trying to change,” said Jamark Jackson.
The biggest change, Wilson says, needs to take place downstate.
"That's a sad situation that our politicians could stand by and watch this thing happen. It takes an individual citizen like myself to step up to the plate and donate money and to make the thing change. And all they had to do was pass a bill,” Wilson said.
All 115 people are invited to a Thanksgiving dinner where they can meet with dozens of churches who want to help them better their lives.
Besides the meal, they will walk away with $200 each.
Wilson says he hopes to help release two to three thousand people next year.