CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT SUPERINTENDENT DAVID BROWN
In a press conference after the violent Fourth of July Weekend, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said, “I hear a lot about what the State’s Attorney is doing. She charged these people with murder we brought before them that we’ve arrested – and the courts, the courts released them back into the community, creating an unsafe environment for all of us.”
This caused State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to respond to the Superintendent, tweeting:
The Police Superintendent, however, seemed happy to point the finger, continuing to blame the Prosecutor and the Courts in a press conference on July 23, 2021. Reeling from another violent weekend in the city, Brown said: "Ask the courts: Why are you releasing violent people -- dangerous people that Chicago police officers arrest and chargeback into these communities to create this environment of lawlessness that we're seeing here?. . Sit in bond court and see the people being charged with unlawful use of a gun by a felon ... being released back into these communities the same day they are arrested.”
CHIEF JUDGE EVANS/THE COURTS
Chief Judge Timothy Evans, the head of the Judiciary in Cook County, staunchly disagreed with the police chief’s assessment, resoundingly deflecting any blame for the increase of violence on the Court system. In response to those statements, his office said, “[t]he law and the facts haven't changed." He also pushed back on the notion that the historic bail reform instituted in 2017. Before the reform, 3% of released defendants were expected to have new criminal activity versus 3.1% afterward. Despite the police chief’s claim that offenders on bail are committing new offenses, 97% were not charged with a new violent offense while on pretrial release.
As Chief Judge Evans stated in his own response to the violent Fourth of July weekend, "[l]ooking at individual tragic cases in isolation may contribute to the speculation that releasing individuals before trial rather than incarcerating them -- whether by placing them on Electronic Monitoring (EM) or other forms of supervision -- means an increase in crime . . . Speculation based on isolated cases is not the same as reality based on a complete picture, and research has shown that bail reform has not led to an increase in crime."
For her part, Mayor Lori Lightfoot generally sided with the police position but added a different twist. Noting the lack of criminal trials conducted over the past year due to the covid-19 shutdown of the courthouses. “Open up the courts,” Lightfoot said. “People need to get their day in court. Justice delayed is justice denied. And you’re hurting not only those who are charged, but also those in the community. The victims, the survivors, and the witnesses who need to have a measure of justice.” The Chief Judge’s Office, much like their reaction to the Police Chief, resoundingly rejected this contention. They noted that since March, Cook County judges have presided over 25 criminal jury trials and 7 civil jury trials. Numerous evidentiary hearings, bench trials, guilty pleas, and other proceedings in the criminal courts have all continued throughout the pandemic, in person or through Zoom. As the spokesperson for Chief Judge Evans, Mary Wisniewski, said, "the courts are not closed and haven't been closed," Wisniewski said.
Additionally, Mayor Lightfoot is offering a million-dollar reward fund for tips related to gun violence and firearm offenses, such as Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon. "My hope is that this million-dollar reward fund incentivizes people to step up, to speak out, and to help us reclaim our streets from the shooters, and the violence," Lightfoot said. The tips can be anonymous and must relate to the seizure of guns or arrest for gun violence. The money is set to come out of the city’s corporate fund.
FEDERAL TASK FORCE
In late July, the United States Department of Justice created a gun trafficking task force to address rising violence in America’s cities, including Chicago. As the Attorney General stated during his visit, “Today, the department is taking another concrete step to address violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences. This effort reflects our shared commitment to keep communities safe.” The strategy of the task force will be to target known corridors where illegal guns are being trafficked and used in crimes.
Gun violence is on the rise and politicians alike are trying to do something about it. What that likely means is more arrests for offenses like Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon or Aggravated Discharge of a Weapon. If you or a family member are charged with these offenses, or any criminal offense, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Robert Callahan & Associates, we have extensive experience dealing with firearm offenses. When it comes to gun laws, we’re experts. If you have a case or questions, call us at 312-322-9000.