CHICAGO CRIME: BY THE NUMBERS
COVID-19 affected all areas of life in 2020. How did the coronavirus affect the Cook County criminal justice system? Outside of mandatory zoom court, what's changed? Were fewer cases filed this year? Is criminal defense litigation down in 2020? From a criminal defense perspective, how is 2019 different from 2020?
In 2016, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office released the first-ever annual report of the Cook County Felony criminal case filings and dispositions. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office continued to update this database during the coronavirus pandemic.
The information below outlines the annual statistics on the Cook County crime rate, jail population, and outcomes/dispositions of the most frequently filed felony cases.
Total crime in Chicago is down 7% in 2020 compared to 2019. This is due to significant reductions in complaints about burglaries and theft. In fact, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) reported 2020 as a 20 year low in overall crime, as well as a 20 year low in burglaries and thefts. There was a 27% reduction in thefts and a 6% reduction in burglaries across the board in 2020. This is not a new trend. In fact, the overall crime rate has been declining since 2014/2015. With that said, homicides and shootings are up more than double than last year.
Shootings are up 51% compared to 2019 and homicides are up 50%. There were 3,033 total shootings in 2020 and 716 murders. Not only are civilian shootings up, but violence against police is also up 300% this year. Officers were shot at 71 times, with 10 cops actually being shot. The Chicago Police Department recovered over 10,000 guns in 2020, a sizable increase from around 2016/2017 when they recovered an average of 7500 guns/year. Most significantly, gun arrests are up by 24% since 2019, with a total of 4,900 Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon/firearm arrests through November.
Since April, the Cook County Jail has been a hotspot for coronavirus. The number of cases declined initially due to expedited bond hearings resulting in the release of scores of inmates. In total, eight detainees, four corrections officers, and one sheriff's deputy have died after testing positive for COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, over 1,150 Cook County jail detainees have tested positive for the coronavirus. In early December 2020, the number of active positive cases at the jail exceeded the peak from the initial outbreak in the spring, but that figure declined recently. As far as the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), the last two months of 2020 saw a dramatic increase in positive coronavirus cases. From March until August, there were 368 positive covid cases in the IDOC. That number is now over 6,000, with 1,200 active/current, cases.
SPECIFIC OFFENSE STATISTICS:
Cook County files on average about 35,000 felony cases per year. This year that number is down almost 10,000 case filings, with a total of 26,948. Of those cases, 20,417 were presented to the Cook County State's Attorney's Felony Review to initiate charges against defendants. 68% of the cases presented to Felony Review were approved aka charges filed.
Note, misdemeanor offenses are not included in this analysis, which number in the hundreds of thousands of cases annually. Below is a breakdown of how certain felonies, such as Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and Aggravated Battery, are filed, as well as how they play out once they reach the courtroom. Additionally, this article does not address drug offenses, such as possession of a controlled substance or manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance. These types of offenses will be addressed in future posting.
TO BE CLEAR: the above statistics are by no means a prediction for what will happen with YOUR case. In fact, it isn't exactly a complete picture of ALL the criminal cases in Cook County. For example, this article does not address narcotics/drug offenses, which at over 8,000 drug offense felony filings per year, which are the largest single category of felony filings each year. However, it does provide a snapshot of the crime rate, jail population, and certain types of felony case outcomes in 2020.
As the numbers in the chart indicate, the number of trials that occurred in 2020 was drastically less than in 2019. This was obviously due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down the court system for almost all of 2020. As 2021 progresses, it is expected a substantial amount of litigation will occur to make up for the lack of litigation in 2019.
When you're charged with a crime, you're already a statistic. Don't find yourself on the losing side of the 2021 Cook County State's Attorney's annual report. At Robert Callahan & Associates, we can help prevent that from happening. If you've been recently charged with a crime or have been fighting your case, call Robert Callahan & Associates, and let's talk about keeping you on the right side of the stats. We crunched the numbers, we know the law, give us a call. 312-322-9000.
*All statistics from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office website: