WBEZ | Criminal Justice http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Closing a 'dark chapter' http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-dark-chapter-111989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jon burge ap file_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated: May 6, 2015</em></p><p>For Chicagoans, it&rsquo;s now a familiar story.</p><p>More than 100 African American men were tortured between 1972 and 1991 by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command. Last month, for the first time, survivors had the opportunity to share their experiences with some members of Chicago&rsquo;s City Council.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Up until November 2, 1983, I had a partial idea of how black people felt in the South when they were terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan,&rdquo; Darrell Cannon, a Burge victim, testified.</p><p>&ldquo;In my case, I was tortured by the new wave klan. The new wave klan wore badges instead of sheets,&rdquo; Cannon explained.&nbsp;</p><p>According to his testimony, three detectives drove Cannon out to an empty lot on the city&rsquo;s far South Side. There, they held a shotgun to his head and played Russian roulette. They told Cannon the game would go on until he told them what they wanted to hear.</p><p>Cannon spent two dozen years in prison for murder he says he didn&rsquo;t commit. In 1988, the city offered Cannon, and he accepted, $3,000 to settle his torture complaint. Only a handful of Burge&rsquo;s survivors have received compensation from the city.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because the city doesn&rsquo;t have to pay the victims--the statute of limitations has expired in most cases. But there have been strong arguments that for these men and the whole city to heal and move forward, Chicago must confront what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called a &ldquo;dark chapter&rdquo; in the city&rsquo;s history.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">More than money</span></p><p>The reparations package, passed by the outgoing City Council Wednesday morning, calls for $5.5 million to be shared by living survivors with credible claims. The People&rsquo;s Law Office, which has been working with victims for more than 20 years, estimates some 120 men would be eligible for reparations; each individual award would be capped at $100,000. The package also calls for a public apology, a permanent public memorial and a counseling center for victims and families on the city&rsquo;s South Side. The ordinance does not specify how it will pay for the counseling center or where, specifically, it will be located.</p><p>And the &ldquo;dark chapter&rdquo; is to be taught in Chicago public schools. According to the city&rsquo;s corporation counsel, Steve Patton, students in 8th and 10th grades would learn about the Burge torture cases in history class, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. They&rsquo;ll analyze primary source documents, review current cases of police brutality, and they&rsquo;ll discuss ways to improve accountability and protections of civil rights.</p><p>Such public acknowledgment could help repair the public&rsquo;s perception of police, according to former Chicago police officer and current 20th ward Ald. Willie Cochran.</p><p>&ldquo;Just like all of the shootings and killings we see going across the country now, it makes it much more difficult for officers to get the respect from the communities that we deserve,&rdquo; Cochran told a packed gallery at last month&rsquo;s hearing.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Unanimous support</span></p><p>Before the City Council vote Wednesday, the names of more than a dozen torture victims and survivors were read and they stood while the council gave them a standing ovation.</p><p>&quot;This stain cannot be removed from our city&#39;s history, but it can be used as a lesson of what not to do,&quot; Mayor Emanuel said.</p><p>The council voted 42-0 in favor of the reparations package, making Chicago the first city in the nation to do so.</p><p>Martha Biondi is a scholar of reparations and chair of the department of African American studies at Northwestern University. She said that by passing the reparations ordinance, Chicago could shift the national narrative around the relationship between people and the police.</p><p>&ldquo;This reparations ordinance models a new paradigm, it models a new pathway to justice,&rdquo; Biondi said.</p><p>Biondi believes America is at a crossroads.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re in this crisis...it&rsquo;s really becoming a crisis of governance, of democracy and of public safety,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But, she added, it&rsquo;s up to the public to rethink and help change the rules around policing.</p><p>&ldquo;Why have we accepted this kind of policing, in city after city after city, in the United States? In which there will be large financial settlements paid out to survivors or family members of police brutality but nothing happens to those officers,&rdquo; Biondi said.</p><p>For his part, Darrell Cannon told the finance committee last month that no amount of money will make up for what he went through, or bring back the family that he lost while he was in prison. But still, he said, to make it this far was a victory in itself.</p><p>But, he added, if he gets some money from the city--he&rsquo;s going to buy a motorcycle.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to ride around City Hall--I&rsquo;m gonna do a lap, to say, &lsquo;Hey, thank you, for finally stepping up and doing the right thing,&rsquo;&rdquo; Cannon said with a smile. He even got a chuckle out of Finance Committee Chair Ald. Ed Burke.</p><p>He told the aldermen he was thankful that he was alive to witness the historic action--and asked them never to allow injustice of this nature to go this long unchecked.</p><p>&ldquo;We are making history...we&rsquo;re doing something that has not been did in any other state in the union. That&rsquo;s saying something about Chicago, that&rsquo;s saying something about Chicago politics,&rdquo; Cannon concluded.</p></p> Tue, 05 May 2015 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-dark-chapter-111989 New Illinois policy: No solitary to punish juvenile inmates http://www.wbez.org/news/new-illinois-policy-no-solitary-punish-juvenile-inmates-111981 <p><p>A federal judge in Chicago has approved new rules strictly barring juvenile detention centers in Illinois from using solitary confinement to punish detainees.</p><p>The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice negotiated that policy change in an ongoing class-action lawsuit. The ACLU alleges solitary confinement can seriously damage inmates&#39; mental health.</p><p>ACLU lawyer Adam Schwartz said in a Monday statement &quot;ending solitary confinement is a mark of a forward-thinking agency.&quot; An agency spokesman didn&#39;t have an immediate comment Sunday evening.</p><p>Court filings indicate Judge Matthew Kennelly gave his OK in late April. Court-appointed monitors will oversee implementation.</p><p>Solitary confinement will be permitted in some cases if detainees are deemed a threat to themselves or others. But they usually must be released after 24 hours.</p></p> Mon, 04 May 2015 08:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-illinois-policy-no-solitary-punish-juvenile-inmates-111981 Sheriff's office announces new mental health clinic http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Mental health jail.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-1d687b03-119d-3f9e-cb1c-805194ec9b5e">Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s office is &nbsp;launching a new mental health clinic in the south suburbs. Sheriff Tom Dart says the clinic is a direct response to government mental health cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">The clinic is already operating at the Markham Courthouse. People detained there will be screened for mental health needs. Some will then be diverted from the jail to the new clinic under court order. The clinic will also be available to people leaving county jail and seeking services.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937" target="_blank">Staff mourn closure of mental health provider C4</a></strong></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If no one else is going to do it, we are going to,&rdquo; said Cara Smith, director of Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">She says the jail is doing what it can, but it&rsquo;s part of a larger system. She says the millions of dollars in proposed state cuts to mental health would be catastrophic. But if the cuts go through it will not be the first time she&rsquo;s seen services disappear. In 2012 the city cut half its mental health clinics, and just last week one of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">largest mental health providers in Chicago announced it was closing its doors. </a></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our custodial population in the jail is almost at a record low. But our population of &nbsp;medically and mentally ill people that need hospital level care is at an all time high,&rdquo; said Smith. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">It is not only the jail that says it has felt a change as services have closed. Emergency Rooms in Chicago saw a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">37 percent rise in ER discharges for psychiatric care. </a></p><p>Dart says he chose to open the clinic in the south suburbs because the area is extremely lacking in mental health services. The clinic is run in collaboration with Adler Community Health Services.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 Trial to begin in 2010 slayings of Chicago officer, official http://www.wbez.org/news/trial-begin-2010-slayings-chicago-officer-official-111944 <p><p>Opening statements are scheduled to start Monday in the trial of a parolee accused of the 2010 killings of a Chicago police officer and a former city official.</p><p>Timothy Herring, now 24-years-old, is accused in the slayings of Michael Flisk, a 46-year-old police evidence technician, and 44-year-old Stephen Peters, a former Chicago Housing Authority official. Prosecutors accuse him of shooting both men in the head once, then shooting them again after he saw one of them move.</p><p>Prosecutors say Herring broke into Peters&#39; car and shot the men after he found out Flisk found fingerprints. They say Herring wanted to avoid returning to prison.</p><p>A jury was selected in the case last week. Herring faces mandatory life in prison if convicted of the killings.</p></p> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 08:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/trial-begin-2010-slayings-chicago-officer-official-111944 Sheriff Dart to investigate unlicensed rehab centers http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pr follow.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is vowing to investigate whether unlicensed rehab centers in Chicago are breaking any criminal laws.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">As WBEZ recently reported</a>, some of the people who end up at these unlicensed residences are heroin addicts who are sent to Chicago from Puerto Rico. &nbsp;They are told to expect well-appointed treatment centers with nurses and pools. Instead they often wind up in rundown residences, and when they don&rsquo;t get the care they need, some of them end up homeless or in jail.</p><p>Dart said he was disgusted to learn of the practice.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no one in good conscience on the other end, in Puerto Rico, who could say they&rsquo;re doing anything other than dumping hapless people in a foreign country,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;These folks are being misled at best &hellip; and the places they&rsquo;re being steered to, you wouldn&rsquo;t send anybody to in good conscience.&rdquo;</p><p>At least two people mentioned in WBEZ&rsquo;s recent story wound up in Cook County Jail.</p><p>Dart said one of the men, who used the alias Manuel, spent 50 days in the jail, for a cost to taxpayers of more than $7,000.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s expensive because once they find there&rsquo;s no services here, it&rsquo;s not as if they just hop back on the plane, no they&rsquo;re-one way tickets. And it&rsquo;s not as if they can go to plan B, there was no plan B. For many of them there&rsquo;s no family around either, so what&rsquo;s going to happen, they&rsquo;re going to end up in our hospitals, they&rsquo;re going to end up in our jails,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p>While Dart saved his strongest words for those responsible in Puerto Rico, he also said local agencies need to step in.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t imagine there are not some criminal violations that are involved if you purport to be something that you&rsquo;re not and you end up harming people as a result of that,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re pushing our lawyers that we have in our office to see what it is that we can do.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/not-it">This American Life: Not It!</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>He also thinks other local agencies could do more.</p><p>&ldquo;I understand we are under all sorts of cuts throughout the state and the city and so on, but I thought at a minimum we would be having some cursory analysis of the different types of entities that put themselves out as treatment facilities,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p>But the state and the city both say they aren&rsquo;t responsible.</p><p>Chicago mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said the city&rsquo;s health department looked into the story and determined that it was a state issue, because the state&rsquo;s Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse is responsible for licensing treatment centers.</p><p>But the director of that department, Theodora Binion, said her department doesn&rsquo;t get involved until someone applies for a license.</p><p>&ldquo;The city has jurisdiction over the actual buildings, what can happen in a building,&rdquo; Binion told WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/sets/morning-shift-april-23-2015">Morning Shift</a>. &ldquo;Zoning is not our area, nor is the building itself&hellip;. That would come from the city.&rdquo;</p><br /><p>But she said they are &ldquo;hoping to identify&rdquo; the people coming from Puerto Rico so as to help them get proper treatment.</p><p>&ldquo;Even though our jurisdiction &hellip; is fairly limited, we can talk to the people that are there and give them information about how they can get legitimate help,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Some of these residences are in Ald. Scott Waguespack&rsquo;s 32nd Ward.</p><p>Waguespack said such unlicensed, unofficial residences exist in a sort of legal gray area between the city and state. Still, he said the city should be doing more to make sure these places are up to snuff.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s pretty amazing that [the city] would try and push it off on the state,&rdquo; Waguespack said.</p><p>Waguespack said he will look at what is already in the zoning code for ways to &ldquo;rein in these businesses so they can&rsquo;t operate above the law.&rdquo; He also said he would explore ways the city could help the people being sent from Puerto Rico.</p><p>Waguespack also called on state officials to draft a law or policy that allowed Illinois government to regulate the centers.</p><p>While most officials said there is more the city or state could be doing to help, they were especially critical of the government of Puerto Rico for allowing - or even sanctioning - the practice.</p><p>Dart said they were an example &ldquo;of people at their absolute worst.&rdquo;</p><p>In a recent <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/not-it?act=1">interview on This American Life</a>, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla acknowledged his state was giving heroin addicts one-way tickets to Chicago. But he insisted the addicts were getting good treatment here.</p><p>Since it has been revealed that often isn&rsquo;t the case, Padilla thus far has refused to do another &nbsp;interview explaining what he plans to do now.</p><p><em>Adriana Cardona-Maguigad contributed to this story. Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938 Zion residents want body cameras for police officers http://www.wbez.org/news/zion-residents-want-body-cameras-police-officers-111926 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/policebodycams_ap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>ZION, Ill. &mdash; Residents of the northeastern Illinois city of Zion are calling on all of its officers to be equipped with body cameras following the police-involved shooting death of 17-year-old Justus Howell.</p><p>The Chicago Tribune <a href="http://trib.in/1OFfLCW" target="_blank">reports</a> about 150 people attended a city council meeting Tuesday in Zion, where more than two dozen members of the Zion-Benton Ministerial Association made the plea for body cameras.</p><p>Pastor Robert Williams of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, a member of the association, said the ministers also would like the city to hire a community liaison officer who can assist in communication between the police department and the community.</p><p>Mayor-elect Al Hill and new members of the city council are expected to consider the group&#39;s proposal at the next meeting.</p></p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/zion-residents-want-body-cameras-police-officers-111926 Lawsuit filed against Chicago police over stop-and-frisk http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-filed-against-chicago-police-over-stop-and-frisk-111923 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chicagopolicefile.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Police Department officers have routinely violated the constitutional rights of minority residents who have not committed any crime with stop, question and frisk encounters, a federal lawsuit claims.</p><p>The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court on behalf of six African-American residents of Chicago and seeks class-action status. It names the city of Chicago, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and 14 unnamed officers.</p><p>The lawsuit alleges the street stops have led to constitutional abuses, including unlawful searches and seizures as well as excessive force.</p><p>&quot;This stop-and-frisk policy was borne out of policing that is not correct,&quot; said plaintiffs&#39; attorney Anthony Romanucci. &quot;It&#39;s unconstitutional, it&#39;s illegal, and it&#39;s improper. Other cities across this country have brought similar lawsuits, and have had good results.&quot;</p><p>A spokesman for the city&#39;s Department of Law did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday seeking comment on the lawsuit. Spokesman John Holden told the Chicago Tribune that officials were still reviewing the lawsuit and had no comment.</p><p>According to plaintiff Gregory Davis, police officers stopped him in July while he waited in his vehicle for a family member to come out of a drug store. The lawsuit alleges officers asked Davis, 58, why he was sitting there and demanded his driver&#39;s license and insurance information. It also alleges Davis was stopped without probable cause three months later as he drove through an alley in his neighborhood. The officers took Davis&#39; license and registration and made him wait 20 minutes while doing a background check. He received no charges or citations.</p><p>In a study released last month, the American Civil Liberties Union said Chicago officers last summer conducted more than 250,000 stops of people who weren&#39;t arrested.</p><p>The report based on police department data found that the practice was employed at a rate that was four times as high as New York &quot;at the height&quot; of officers&#39; use of the practice there.</p><p>The ACLU also said that almost three-fourths of those stopped were African-American, though they make up about a third of the city&#39;s population.</p><p>Police officials responded to the study by saying the department prohibits racial profiling and other &quot;bias based policing.&quot; They said over the last three years the department has improved training to ensure police officers are aware of that policy and comply, including requiring more detailed documentation and adding more supervision.</p></p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 09:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-filed-against-chicago-police-over-stop-and-frisk-111923 Illinois prisons chief says union contracts causing problems http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-chief-says-union-contracts-causing-problems-111913 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/prisoncellfile.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The new director of Illinois prisons says union contracts are the source of many problems within the Illinois Department of Corrections and he soon will recommend reforms.</p><p>In a memo to Gov. Bruce Rauner released by the agency Monday, prisons chief Donald Stolworthy wrote the contracts contribute to &quot;many of the ills within the system,&quot; including personnel costs and qualifications within management. In documents, he said overtime costs in corrections have skyrocketed in recent years with a master contract allowing it to be assigned by seniority.</p><p>Union contracts expire July 1. State employee unions have been heavily criticized by Rauner, who says previous salary and benefits agreements have led to unstainable costs.</p><p>The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers <a href="http://bit.ly/1JngUxh">first reported on the memo</a>. Anders Lindall, spokesman for the state council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the news bureau that overtime problems at prisons are caused by a lack of staff. The corrections system employs 11,000 people, down from 17,000 employees a decade ago.</p><p>In a state House committee meeting last week, Stolworthy told legislators that he backs a budget proposal that would add 400 guards. Rauner has said new employees would help cut overtime costs.</p><p>Stolworthy wrote that he&#39;s spotted other problems since taking over last month. He said a lack of newer technology also adds to costs by &quot;wasting staff hours.&quot;</p><p>The department doesn&#39;t have an automated timekeeping system, Stolworthy wrote, and old facilities have gates that must be opened and closed manually.</p><p>Stolworthy said he&#39;ll complete an action plan to fix the corrections department in the next few weeks. The initiatives, if successful, would &quot;put Illinois in the vanguard of change in U.S. corrections,&quot; he wrote.</p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-chief-says-union-contracts-causing-problems-111913 After detective’s acquittal in fatal shooting, prosecutors face criticism http://www.wbez.org/news/after-detective%E2%80%99s-acquittal-fatal-shooting-prosecutors-face-criticism-111907 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rekia-boyd-dante-servin-chicago-police-brutality-320x213.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Cleared of charges after fatally shooting an African American woman, a Chicago police detective says justice was served. But the woman&rsquo;s supporters say the detective deserved to go to prison. They are slamming the acquittal and the way the case was prosecuted.</p><p dir="ltr">Det. Dante Servin faced charges including involuntary manslaughter for the 2012 death of Rekia Boyd, 22. Before hearing the defense present its witnesses, Cook County Associate Judge Dennis J. Porter abruptly ended the trial Monday. He read a seven-page order that acquitted Servin on all counts.</p><p dir="ltr">To some folks in the courtroom, Porter seemed to be saying the trial might have ended differently if prosecutors had charged the detective with murder. And it&rsquo;s not just Boyd&rsquo;s friends and relatives questioning Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office. Some legal scholars are too.</p><p dir="ltr">Our story (listen above) explores whether the charges were appropriate through the eyes of the judge, Boyd&rsquo;s family, the detective, the state&rsquo;s attorney and an outside expert.</p><div><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a>. In the photo, Servin hears the judge acquit him on Monday (John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune).</em></div></p> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-detective%E2%80%99s-acquittal-fatal-shooting-prosecutors-face-criticism-111907 Cook County prosecutor to try new approach to drug crimes http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-prosecutor-try-new-approach-drug-crimes-111905 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/anitaalvarez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County State&#39;s Attorney says her office won&#39;t prosecute most misdemeanor marijuana cases and will steer many facing felony drug charges into treatment rather than locking them up &mdash; a policy shift she says will save the county that includes Chicago the money it costs to keep offenders in jail.</p><p>Anita Alvarez said Monday she is launching the new policy because locking people up on low-level drug charges &quot;simply isn&#39;t working.&quot;</p><p>Alvarez says offenders facing low level drug charges will be routed to treatment programs almost immediately after they are arrested. And she says that by reducing the number of days people spend in jail, those arrested may be able to keep their jobs and homes that they could otherwise lose if they&#39;re locked up.</p><p>The alternative program will be for non-violent individuals charged with Class 4 felony possession of a controlled substance. It will attempt to link repeat offenders with social service agencies for treatment.</p><p>Alvarez&#39; office says Class 4 felony drug possession cases accounted for 25 percent of all felony cases in Cook County last year. On top of that, there were 15,000 misdemeanor cases for possession of small amounts of cannabis.</p></p> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 08:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-prosecutor-try-new-approach-drug-crimes-111905