WBEZ | Department of Justice http://www.wbez.org/tags/department-justice Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County’s disregard of ICE detainers catches on http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county%E2%80%99s-disregard-ice-detainers-catches-100818 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SecureCommunitiesRallyNYCscale.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 375px; width: 250px; " title="Diana Mejia of Madison, N.J., prays during a 2011 rally in New York City to condemn Secure Communities, a U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement program that relies on jail compliance with agency requests known as detainers. (AP file/Mary Altaffer)" />A Cook County policy of disregarding immigration detainers is catching on. Lawmakers in other parts of the country, most recently the District of Columbia on Tuesday, have approved bills modeled after the policy.</p><p>Some Republicans are pressing President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration to take reprisals against those jurisdictions. In a hearing Tuesday, the chairwoman of a U.S. House homeland security panel urged Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton to punish Cook County for its stand.</p><p>The detainers &mdash; ICE requests that local jails hold specified individuals up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require &mdash; help put the inmates into deportation proceedings. Jail compliance with detainers is a key part of Secure Communities, a program that has helped the Obama administration shift immigration enforcement toward criminals.</p><p>Cook County officials say detainers also erode community trust in local police. Last September, the County Board approved an ordinance that halted detainer compliance by the county&rsquo;s massive jail. ICE abruptly lost convenient access to hundreds of immigration violators each year.</p><p>&ldquo;The Cook County legislation was very critical and a part of the development for the legislation in the District of Columbia,&rdquo; said Ron Hampton, a retired Metropolitan Police officer in the nation&rsquo;s capital who has pushed the D.C. bill.</p><p>Hampton pointed to a legal opinion that supporters of the Cook County measure obtained from State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office last year. That opinion, citing a federal court ruling in Indiana, called detainer compliance voluntary and helped convince the Cook County Board to approve the ordinance. Hampton said the opinion added weight to what he called &ldquo;a model piece of legislation.&rdquo;</p><p>Since the Cook County ordinance passed, New York City, the state of Connecticut and the California county of Santa Clara have also curtailed their compliance with immigration detainers.</p><p>On July 5, the California Senate approved similar legislation that would affect the entire state. That bill is expected to pass the state Assembly. Gov. Jerry Brown has not indicated whether he would sign it into law.</p><p>At the U.S. House hearing, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Michigan) said Secure Communities had &ldquo;excellent buy-in&rdquo; from jurisdictions across the nation. Miller, chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, called Cook County &ldquo;the big holdout&rdquo; and asked Morton about it.</p><p>Morton repeated an administration claim that Cook County&rsquo;s disregard of ICE detainers compromised public safety. That claim was the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190">WBEZ investigation</a> completed in May. Inmates freed as a result of the ordinance, the investigation found, have not reoffended or jumped bail more than other former inmates have.</p><p>Morton also told the subcommittee about letters he had written to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to spell out his concerns. &ldquo;We have been working with the county to see if there isn&rsquo;t some solution,&rdquo; Morton said. &ldquo;I won&rsquo;t sugarcoat it. I don&rsquo;t think that that approach is going to work in full. We&rsquo;re going to need the help of others. We have been exploring our options under federal law with the Department of Justice.&rdquo;</p><p>Morton said he would also push for a cutoff of some federal funds for the county&rsquo;s jail.</p><p>That vow won praise from Miller. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how delighted I am,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re not going to assist us in removing not only criminal aliens but those that might go on to commit a terrorist attack or what-have-you, because they want to have their city become a sanctuary, the federal government cannot stand by idly and allow that to happen.&rdquo;</p><p>As other jurisdictions adopt the Cook County approach, some enforcement advocates are calling for a tougher federal response.</p><p>Ira Mehlman, spokesman of the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, points out that the Obama administration has sued states such as Arizona and Alabama for taking immigration enforcement into their own hands</p><p>&ldquo;Yet, when it comes to jurisdictions that have openly defied federal enforcement, then the Justice Department seems to have enormous patience and is extremely lenient,&rdquo; Mehlman said.</p></p> Wed, 11 Jul 2012 16:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county%E2%80%99s-disregard-ice-detainers-catches-100818 Immigration enforcement program faces novel suit http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ColoradoFingerprinting.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 214px; height: 250px; " title="A sheriff’s deputy in Centennial, Colo., prepares to fingerprint a suspect as part of booking into the Arapahoe County Justice Center. Secure Communities runs the fingerprints of everyone booked into jail against immigration records. (AP File/Chris Schneider)" />We&rsquo;ve been hearing a lot about how immigration enforcement intersects with local law enforcement. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. Now we&rsquo;ll hear from our West Side bureau about a suburban Chicago man who got tangled up with immigration enforcement after a drug arrest. He has filed a suit that offers a novel challenge to one of President Obama&rsquo;s key immigration-enforcement programs.</p><p>MITCHELL: There&rsquo;s no doubt James Makowski of Clarendan Hills did something illegal. In 2010 police caught him with heroin and he pleaded guilty to that. A judge approved him for a state-run boot camp. But that&rsquo;s not where Makowski ended up.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I thought I would be home in 120 days but -- then after I get a note back from a counselor, after I&rsquo;d asked about when I&rsquo;d be shipping to boot camp -- she said that I was ineligible for boot camp due to an immigration detainer.</p><p>MITCHELL: That&rsquo;s basically a flag in his file from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE. So . . .</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I got sent to the maximum-security penitentiary in Pontiac.</p><p>MITCHELL: And he stayed for about two months. How did this happen? It comes down to an ICE program called Secure Communities. In that program, FBI fingerprint data about people booked at local jails get run against immigration data. If a check yields a match, ICE can issue one of its detainers. The point is to catch people in the criminal justice system who are not authorized to be in the U.S. and eventually deport them. The thing is, Makowski had every right to be in the country.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I feel like I got punished twice for what I did in my past.</p><p>MITCHELL: Makowski&rsquo;s detention was based on faulty information. He was born in India and adopted by a U.S. family. When he was 1, the government granted him citizenship. But &mdash; at age 22, when he got picked up on the heroin charge &mdash; the feds didn&rsquo;t have their records right. So, Makowski stayed in that maximum-security pen before authorities straightened things out and let him into the boot camp. On Tuesday, Makowski filed a federal suit over all this. Defendants include top officials at the FBI, ICE and their parent departments. Makowski claims that when the FBI shared data with ICE &mdash; and when ICE didn&rsquo;t keep track of his citizenship status &mdash; they violated his rights under the U.S. Privacy Act. Legal experts say the suit appears to be the first challenge to Secure Communities under that law. Makowski&rsquo;s attorneys include Mark Fleming of the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center.</p><p>FLEMING: There [are] simple ways in which both the FBI and ICE could be in compliance with the Privacy Act.</p><p>MITCHELL: Fleming says ICE could, for example, interview suspected immigration violators before slapping detainers on them.</p><p>FLEMING: Unfortunately, the system does not provide those basic checks right now and, so, there are many more U.S. citizens that are getting wrapped up into this.</p><p>MITCHELL: Officials at ICE and the departments of Justice and Homeland Security did not answer our questions about the suit Tuesday (see&nbsp;<a href="#note">UPDATE</a>). An FBI spokesman said his agency does not comment about pending litigation outside the courtroom. But a supporter of tougher immigration controls doubts that the Privacy Act protects U.S. citizens from what Makowski endured. Jessica Vaughan directs policy studies for a Washington group called the Center for Immigration Studies. Vaughan says the FBI and ICE share the fingerprint information for legitimate law-enforcement purposes.</p><p>VAUGHAN: Mistakes can be made. But that is not necessarily a reason to throw out the whole system.</p><p>MITCHELL: Vaughan says it&rsquo;s important to keep something else in mind.</p><p><a name="note"></a></p><p>VAUGHAN: The individual who&rsquo;s filing this suit would not have had anything to worry about had he not been convicted of a serious crime to begin with. He was convicted of a drug crime.</p><p>MITCHELL: Convicted he was. But Makowski says no one should have to serve extra time behind bars because of errors in immigration records.</p><p><em>After a deadline for Tuesday&rsquo;s broadcast of this story, ICE provided this statement: &ldquo;The information-sharing partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI serves as the cornerstone of Secure Communities, and fulfills a mandate required by federal law. This information sharing does not violate the Privacy Act. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is evaluating the allegations contained in the lawsuit; however, we do not comment on pending litigation.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>The ICE statement continues: &ldquo;In December ICE announced a new detainer form and the launch of a toll-free hotline &mdash; (855) 448-6903 &mdash; that detained individuals can call if they believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services are available in several languages from 7 a.m. until midnight (Eastern), seven days a week. ICE personnel collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office for immediate action.&rdquo;</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Jul 2012 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 ICE detainers a public-safety issue? http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Napolitano.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 280px; height: 303px;" title="In April 25 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano calls a Cook County policy of disregarding the detainers ‘terribly misguided.’ (AP/Susan Walsh)" /></div><p><em>More than eight months since it passed, an ordinance that ended Cook County Jail compliance with immigration detainers keeps causing sparks. The detainers </em>&mdash; <em>requests that the jail hold inmates up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require </em>&mdash; <em>help federal officials put the inmates into deportation proceedings. Sheriff Tom Dart and some county commissioners are pressing for the ordinance to be scaled back. So is President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration. They all say their motive is to keep dangerous criminals locked up. Yet officials offer no evidence whether inmates freed by the ordinance endanger the public more than other former inmates do. A WBEZ investigation sheds the first light.</em></p><p>The ordinance cut ties between the jail and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency known as ICE. It passed last September. County Commissioner Tim Schneider offered a prediction.</p><p>SCHNEIDER: Under this ordinance, gang bangers, people involved in drug dealing, sex trafficking and criminal sexual assault will be released back into our communities that with these ICE detainers would be held and would be deported. This is clearly our Willie Horton moment here in Cook County.</p><p>Horton was a Massachusetts felon let out of prison on a weekend furlough in 1986. He did not come back and committed violent crimes that haunted Governor Michael Dukakis in his presidential campaign. Cook County may not have anyone like Horton on its hands. But within four months of the ordinance&rsquo;s approval, news outlets had seized on someone else.</p><p>TV REPORTER: . . . when it was revealed that this man, Saúl Chávez, an alleged hit-and-run driver, had bonded out . . .</p><p>Saúl Chávez &mdash; that&rsquo;s the pronunciation &mdash; was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. ICE slapped a detainer on him but the ordinance required the jail to disregard it. When he posted bond, the jail let him out. Then Chávez missed his court dates and disappeared.</p><p>DART: . . . Thank you very much, Commissioner. Thank you for having me here. . . .</p><p>At a February hearing, Sheriff Tom Dart told county commissioners about other inmates he&rsquo;d freed.</p><p>DART: Since September 7, the jail has released 346 individuals &mdash; who had detainers on them &mdash; that prior to September 7 would have been detained on the hold.</p><p>Dart said 11 of those 346 had committed new offenses. ICE, meanwhile, pointed to the Chávez case and, like Dart, claimed the ordinance undermined public safety in the county. Last month U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified at a Senate hearing.</p><p>NAPOLITANO: Cook County&rsquo;s ordinance is terribly misguided and is a public-safety issue. We&rsquo;re evaluating a lot of options . . .</p><p>All this talk about public safety had me scratching my head. Just how dangerous are these people? Are they more dangerous than former jail inmates that ICE has not named on detainers? I looked for studies comparing the two groups. I checked with policy experts and criminologists . . . the sheriff&rsquo;s office, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, ICE, the U.S. Department of Justice . . .</p><p>BECK: I&rsquo;m not aware that any research has been conducted on this.</p><p>This is Allen Beck. He&rsquo;s a top DOJ statistician. I show him the figures Sheriff Dart brought to that hearing. Some simple math shows that about 3 percent of the inmates the jail freed in disregard of immigration detainers had committed new offenses.<a href="#1"><sup>[1]</sup></a></p><p>BECK: That&rsquo;s correct.</p><p>The sheriff&rsquo;s office told me it couldn&rsquo;t come up with the rearrest rate for all the other inmates the jail released during those five months.<sup><a href="#2">[2]</a></sup> The office did provide numbers for Cook County defendants on electronic monitoring.<sup><a href="#3">[3]</a></sup> And I checked into a Loyola University study about felons discharged from Illinois probation.<a href="#4"><sup>[4]</sup></a> The rearrest rate for both groups is about the same as for the detainer group.</p><p>BECK: Right.</p><p>Beck tells me about something else.</p><p>BECK: You know, we have tracked felony defendants in large state courts for some time. We have statistics related to Cook County. We certainly have been able to determine a substantial failure rate.</p><p>Beck shows me what he means by failure. In the DOJ&rsquo;s most recent look at Cook County felony defendants, about 25 percent of those who got out of jail with charges pending committed new crimes before their case was over.<sup><a href="#5">[5]</a></sup></p><p>MITCHELL: Mr. Beck, given the evidence available, what can we say about the former inmates wanted by ICE?</p><p>BECK: Well, there clearly isn&rsquo;t any data here to suggest that this group had a higher rate of failure &mdash; that is, of a re-arrest &mdash; than other groups that the Cook County sheriff may be dealing with. In fact, I think the evidence would suggest that these rates are lower.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s another question about Cook County&rsquo;s policy of disregarding immigration detainers: Are the inmates who bond out more likely to skip their court dates and go missing, like Saúl Chávez did? In the county&rsquo;s court records, you can see a defendant has failed to appear when the judge revokes bail and orders arrest. The arrest order&rsquo;s known as a bond-forfeiture warrant.</p><p>MITCHELL: So, Mr. Beck, of the inmates our jail released despite immigration detainers, we pulled court records on all but one of those who were charged with a felony and who got out by posting bond.<a href="#6"><sup>[6]</sup></a></p><p>BECK: . . . couldn&rsquo;t find one.</p><p>MITCHELL: Right.</p><p>BECK: Right.</p><p>MITCHELL: And of those, about 12 percent were named on bond-forfeiture warrants during the five months.</p><p>BECK: About 12 percent.</p><p>For perspective, I rounded up some WBEZ volunteers to help check this figure against other felony defendants freed on bond over the five months. We came up with a representative sample.<a href="#7"><sup>[7]</sup></a> Judges ordered bond-forfeiture warrants for about 14 percent of our sample during the period. Then I got some figures from the sheriff and the court clerk.<a href="#8"><sup>[8]</sup></a> They show roughly how many bond-forfeiture warrants named any felony defendant who got out on bail during those five months.</p><p>BECK: So basically what you&rsquo;re saying is that about 15 percent &mdash; what is that, one in six?</p><p>MITCHELL: Yeah, very close to the rate of the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. Mr. Beck, your study &mdash; the one by&nbsp;the U.S. Department of Justice&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;also includes figures for how many Cook County felony defendants failed to appear in court.<a href="#9"><sup>[9]</sup></a></p><p>BECK: We found 21 percent.</p><p>MITCHELL: Now, Mr. Beck, whether we&rsquo;re looking at the rearrests or the bail jumping, all our comparisons include some apples-to-oranges issues.</p><p>BECK: That&rsquo;s right but we&rsquo;re looking at numbers that certainly do not lead to a conclusion that this group released in disregard to the ICE detainers would pose a greater risk upon their release than others.</p><p>If that&rsquo;s the case, I wondered what all those officials meant when they said the Cook County ordinance undermines public safety. Sheriff Dart&rsquo;s office and the Department of Homeland Security haven&rsquo;t granted my requests to speak with them about this. An ICE spokeswoman says her agency won&rsquo;t talk about this on tape and says ICE never claimed that the former jail inmates it named on detainers were committing more crimes or jumping bail more than other former jail inmates. The lack of evidence did not stop the officials from pressing for the ordinance to be scaled back. Tim Schneider &mdash; he&rsquo;s the County Board commissioner who invoked Willie Horton &mdash; he proposed an amendment that would require compliance with the ICE detainers for inmates who appear on a federal terrorist list or face a serious felony charge. I ask Schneider whether his push has anything to do with age-old fears about immigrants threatening public safety.</p><p>MITCHELL: When you talk about Willie Horton in the context of the September ordinance and when you talk about Saúl Chávez &mdash; our research suggested he&rsquo;s not typical &mdash; are you stoking those fears?</p><p>SCHNEIDER: Absolutely not.</p><p>He goes on.</p><p>SCHNEIDER: If these people could be held pursuant to ICE detainers, then that&rsquo;s one less person that would flee justice. In the case of Saúl Chávez, he is out loose because we&rsquo;re not complying with ICE detainers.</p><p>YOUNG: No one wants to be seen as endangering public safety.</p><p>Attorney Malcolm Young directs an inmate-reentry program at Northwestern University.</p><p>YOUNG: The claim of public safety is a good one to make any time you want to advance one or another criminal-justice policy. Here I think it&rsquo;s incumbent on someone who&rsquo;s making that argument to show why it is that the release of someone who is the subject of an ICE detainer puts the community at risk or creates a risk that that person is not going to show up in court.</p><p>Otherwise, Young says, the Cook County Jail may as well keep all inmates beyond what their criminal cases require &mdash; not just those wanted by immigration authorities.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Notes</span></strong></p><p><a name="1">1. </a>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told county commissioners at a February 9 hearing that his office had freed 346 inmates in disregard of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers since September 7, when the County Board enacted &ldquo;Policy for responding to ICE detainers&rdquo; (Ordinance 11-O-73). Of the 346, according to Dart, 11 committed new offenses during the five months. That means 3.2 percent had reoffended. The flow of the releases over the five months was steady, so the individuals averaged about 75 days (half of the five months) in which they could have been arrested on new charges. That makes the per-day rearrest rate roughly 0.04 percent.</p><p><a name="2">2. </a>The sheriff&rsquo;s office says the jail released 30,549 inmates between September 7 and February 6. But the office says it could not quickly find out how many had committed new offenses during that period because that tally would require investigating the cases one-by-one.</p><p><a name="3">3. </a>The sheriff&rsquo;s office says Cook County Circuit Court judges ordered 2,700 individuals into the sheriff&rsquo;s electronic-monitoring program between September 7 and February 6. Of those, according to the sheriff&rsquo;s office, 53 were arrested for a new crime while in the program during that period. That means about 2.0 percent had committed a new crime &mdash; close to the 3.2 percent for the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. Among shortcomings with this comparison is that the electronic-monitoring group did not include individuals released from jail after a not-guilty ruling, individuals who had served their sentences, individuals for whom all charges were dismissed and so on.</p><p><a name="4">4. </a>Loyola University Chicago <a href="http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=248832">researchers studied 1,578 felons</a> discharged in November 2000 from Illinois probation. Within two months of their discharge, 3 percent had been rearrested for a new crime, according David Olson, an author of the study. That&rsquo;s about 0.05 percent per day &mdash; close to the 0.04 percent rate for the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. Shortcomings with this comparison include penal and policing changes since the probation discharges, the presence of 740 non-Cook County individuals in the probation group, and that group&rsquo;s lack of misdemeanants, pretrial defendants, individuals whose charges were dropped, individuals found not guilty, individuals who completed sentences other than probation and so on.</p><p><a name="5">5. </a>The most recent U.S. Department of Justice <a href="http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fdluc06.pdf">study that covers rearrests</a> of former Cook County Jail inmates looks at 716 defendants who were charged in May 2006 with a felony and freed from the jail before trial. About 25 percent were rearrested again in Illinois on a new charge before their case&rsquo;s disposition. Assuming the median time between their first arrest and their adjudication was 92 days, the per-day rearrest rate was roughly 0.27 percent &mdash; much higher than the 0.04 percent rate for the inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming with this comparison is the DOJ study&rsquo;s lack of misdemeanants and of individuals released because their sentence was served or their charges were dropped. Another shortcoming is that the median time, 92 days, refers to all counties in the DOJ study. The figure for Cook County alone was not available.</p><p><a name="6">6. </a>The sheriff&rsquo;s office provided a listing of individuals the jail released between September 7 and February 6 in disregard of ICE detainers. WBEZ focused on flight risk by examining a subset &mdash; the 133 felony defendants who got out of jail by posting bond. Court records on one of those defendants could not be found, reducing the number to 132. Judges named 16 of the 132, or 12.1 percent, on bond-forfeiture warrants (BFWs) during that five-month period, according to a WBEZ review of the records. The flow of the releases over the period was steady, so the individuals averaged about 75 days (half of the five months) in which they could have been named on a BFW. That makes the per-day rate roughly 0.16 percent. But there&rsquo;s a caveat: It&rsquo;s possible that some of the 16 defendants who failed to appear in court were missing because ICE had detained or deported them. A January 4 letter from ICE Director John Morton says his agency had arrested 15 individuals that the jail had released since September 7 in disregard of ICE detainers. We asked ICE to identify the 15 but the agency pointed to a privacy policy and declined. We also asked ICE whether it notifies the Cook County Circuit Court after taking into custody someone with a pending criminal case in that court, whose judges order the BFWs. ICE didn&rsquo;t answer that question but said it informs local law-enforcement agencies and the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office.</p><p><a name="7">7. </a>WBEZ generated a 133-member sample of felony defendants freed on bond between September 7 and February 6. Of those, 18, or 13.5 percent, were named on a BFW during that period, according to a WBEZ review of their court records. That rate is close to the 12.1 percent for inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming of this comparison concerns the degree to which the sample is representative. Randomness was impossible due to limits on public access to records kept by the sheriff and the Clerk of the Circuit Court and due to a lack of data integration between the two offices. An example of the shortcoming is that WBEZ had to identify the felony cases by finding clerk-assigned case numbers with digits showing the case&rsquo;s transfer to the court system&rsquo;s criminal division, which handles felonies only. But some felony cases never reach that division and, thus, are never assigned a case number with those digits.</p><p><a name="8">8. </a>Figures from the sheriff&rsquo;s office suggest that roughly 8,000 felony defendants got out of jail between September 7 and February 6 by posting bond. Figures from the clerk&rsquo;s office suggest that judges ordered 1,247 BFWs in felony cases during that period. The BFWs cover roughly 15.6 percent of the defendants, assuming just one BFW per defendant. The rate is higher than the 12.1 percent for inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming with this comparison is that the &ldquo;roughly 8,000&rdquo; figure refers to a 7,785-9,089 range provided by the sheriff&rsquo;s office, which says it can&rsquo;t quickly determine the felony/misdemeanor status of 1,304 cases. Another shortcoming is that the clerk&rsquo;s office does not track when defendants were released from jail. The 1,247 figure, therefore, pertains to the five-month period but not the 8,000 defendants per se.</p><p><a name="9">9. </a>In the DOJ study, judges named 21 percent of the defendants on a warrant for failure to appear in court. Given the median 92 days from arrest to adjudication, 0.23 percent per day got such a warrant. That rate is higher than the 0.16 percent for inmates released in disregard of ICE detainers. A shortcoming with this comparison is that the detainer group includes just those who posted bond. The DOJ group includes additional pretrial-defendant types, such as those released on personal recognizance. Another shortcoming is that the median time, 92 days, refers to all counties in the DOJ study. The figure for Cook County alone was not available.</p><p><em>Research assistance from Brian Mitchell, Christopher Newman, Joan Rothenberg and Sauming Seto. Editing by Shawn Allee.</em></p></p> Wed, 16 May 2012 11:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190 Muslim woman, school district settle discrimination case http://www.wbez.org/story/muslim-woman-school-district-settle-discrimination-case-93163 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-14/AP00031601268.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A school district in western Cook County has come to a settlement with a former teacher in a case about religious discrimination. Berkeley School District 87 will pay Safoorah Khan $75,000 and will create a program for employees to undergo training on how to comply with federal laws regarding religious accommodations.</p><p>Khan was a math lab teacher at McArthur Middle School when she applied for three weeks of unpaid leave in 2008 to perform hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Able-bodied and financially capable Muslims are required to perform hajj at least once in their lives, as a religious duty.&nbsp;</p><p>When the Berkeley school board denied her leave, Khan filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Commission tried, but failed, to mediate the case, so it called in the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the settlement, the DOJ will work with the district to create the training program, and will monitor the district’s compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for a period of three years.&nbsp;</p><p>“I don’t believe that the board of education acted with any kind of malice, or with any kind of anti-Muslim hostility,” said Kamran Memon, Khan’s attorney. “I think they just made a mistake based on their lack of familiarity with their religious accommodation obligations under the civil rights laws and a lack of familiarity with the religious significance of the Hajj.</p><p>The school district could not be reached for comment.</p></p> Fri, 14 Oct 2011 20:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/muslim-woman-school-district-settle-discrimination-case-93163 Parole hearing goes poorly for Puerto Rican nationalist http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/parole-hearing-goes-poorly-puerto-rican-nationalist <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Susler.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A parole hearing did not go well for a Chicagoan that Puerto Rican nationalists call a patriot. <br /><br />The prisoner, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/puerto-rican-nationalist-argue-parole">Oscar López Rivera</a>, has served more than 29 years on a conviction of seditious conspiracy. Federal authorities accused him of leading a Puerto Rican independence group, the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), that set off dozens of bombs, many in Chicago.<br /><br />On Wednesday, a U.S. Parole Commission examiner visited a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where López Rivera is serving his sentence. The examiner heard from the inmate and some victims of a deadly 1975 blast for which the FALN claimed responsibility.<br /><br />In the end, the examiner said he&rsquo;d recommend at least another 12 years for the prisoner, according to his attorney, Jan Susler of Chicago.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was shameful,&rdquo; Susler said on her way home from the prison. &ldquo;The Parole Commission had no business allowing these people to attend or to attempt to influence the decision.&rdquo;<br /><br />Susler points out that López Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy, not a particular attack. She claims he had nothing to do with the 1975 bombing.<br /><br />Johanna Markind, assistant general counsel for the commission, said the parole recommendation will go to an executive reviewer and, eventually, a four-member board that heads the commission. She said a final decision could take months.</p></p> Wed, 05 Jan 2011 22:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/parole-hearing-goes-poorly-puerto-rican-nationalist Puerto Rican nationalist to argue for parole http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/puerto-rican-nationalist-argue-parole <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Oscar_Lopez_Rivera.gif" alt="" /><p><p>A former Chicagoan that some Puerto Ricans call a political prisoner will make his case to walk free. <br /><br />A U.S. Parole Commission examiner is set to hear arguments Wednesday morning from Oscar López Rivera at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., according to Johanna Markind, assistant general counsel for the commission.<br /><br />López Rivera, 67, is the last imprisoned Puerto Rican independence advocate among more than a dozen convicted in the 1980s of seditious conspiracy. Authorities accused him of leading the FALN, the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation.<br /><br />The group emerged in 1974 and claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings, mostly in the New York and Chicago areas. The assaults killed at least five people and injured more than 70 others.<br /><br />But authorities didn&rsquo;t charge the Puerto Ricans with killing or injuring anyone. So, according to López Rivera&rsquo;s supporters, it would be wrong to keep him locked up.<br /><br />&ldquo;You have murderers and rapists freed after 10 to 12 years,&rdquo; said Chicago activist Alejandro Luis Molina, a leader of a campaign urging parole. &ldquo;On the other hand, you have Oscar López Rivera, who was not convicted of shedding one drop of human blood, serving a 70-year sentence. And he&rsquo;s in his 30th year of incarceration.&rdquo;<br /><br />But some victims of FALN attacks want him to serve out the term. &ldquo;Oscar López is a sworn terrorist; unrepentant and dangerous,&rdquo; wrote Joseph F. Connor, whose father died in a 1975 bombing of a New York City tavern. &ldquo;He has done nothing to assist the U.S. government or its citizens to resolve unsolved FALN crimes.&rdquo;<br /><br />López Rivera was sentenced to 55 years after a 1981 conviction of seditious conspiracy, weapons violations and other charges. In 1988, he received an additional 15 years for conspiring to escape prison. His attorney, Jan Susler of Chicago, said this week the charge resulted from a sting operation.<br /><br />In 1999, President Clinton offered clemency to most of the imprisoned Puerto Ricans. López Rivera declined the offer, partly because it excluded his comrade Carlos Alberto Torres, said Susler, who represents both men.<br /><br />A campaign for Torres&rsquo;s parole led to his release from a downstate Illinois prison last July. After more than 30 years behind bars, Torres returned to a hero&rsquo;s homecoming in Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood before settling in Puerto Rico.<br /><br />López Rivera, a Vietnam veteran, turns 68 on Thursday. His Chicago relatives include a younger brother, José López, who directs the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, an influential Humboldt Park group. López Rivera would settle in Puerto Rico if he received parole, his supporters say.<br /><br />Markind said the case&rsquo;s examiner will also hear Wednesday from some victims of the bombings. Opponents of López Rivera&rsquo;s parole bid have &ldquo;inundated&rdquo; the commission with calls in recent days, she added.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Markind said, the commission has received more than three large boxes of letters urging parole.<br /><br />The commission, a Department of Justice unit based in Maryland, is led by a four-member board appointed by the president. Markind said it could take months for the commission to decide López&rsquo;s fate.</p></p> Wed, 05 Jan 2011 12:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/puerto-rican-nationalist-argue-parole Puerto Ricans to welcome freed ‘patriot’ http://www.wbez.org/story/news/local/puerto-ricans-welcome-freed-%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%CB%9Cpatriot%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100726_cmitchell_146741_Puer_large.png" alt="" /><p><p><strong>A federal prison in downstate Illinois is scheduled to release an Oak Park and River Forest High School alumnus today. Carlos Alberto Torres once topped the FBI's Most Wanted list. After his 1980 arrest in Evanston, prosecutors called Torres a terrorist. A jury found him guilty of seditious conspiracy. But some Puerto Ricans on Chicago's Northwest Side are planning a hero's homecoming. <br /><br /></strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content.aspx?audioID=43422"><strong>Freed Prisoner Defends Armed Struggle</strong></a><strong>: An interview with Carlos Alberto Torres.</strong><br /><br />The posters for today's celebration call Carlos Alberto Torres a patriot.</p> <p>LOPEZ: Carlos has spent 30 years in prison.</p> <p>José López directs the Puerto Rican Cultural Center here in Humboldt Park.</p> <p>LOPEZ: That's longer than almost any political prisoner in the world.</p> <p>Torres worked in a Puerto Rican movement that opposed U.S. control of the island. Authorities called him a leader of the FALN. The Spanish acronym stands for Armed Forces of National Liberation.</p> <p>The group emerged in 1974. It claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings and armed robberies, mostly in New York and Chicago. The assaults killed five people and injured more than 70 others.</p> <p>The targets included the Cook County Building, the Merchandise Mart and a shopping mall in northwest suburban Schaumberg.</p> <p>MITCHELL: One of the most daring attacks was in a building that was here at Dearborn and Washington downtown. It was March 15, 1980. The Carter-Mondale presidential campaign was using a couple floors for a headquarters. A half-dozen FALN members with shotguns and rifles burst in. They bound and gagged people, ransacked the offices and spray-painted Puerto Rican independence slogans.</p> <p>BERG: People took up arms as a way to push things forward.</p> <p>The University of Pennsylvania's Dan Berger is an expert on 1970s radicalism.</p> <p>BERG: Groups like the FALN, the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army and others were all shaped by an extreme sense of state repression -- of people being killed, arrested, locked up, forced into exile.</p> <p>The FALN had ties to clandestine groups in Puerto Rico. Torres's attorney is Jan Susler of Chicago.</p> <p>SUSLER: A body of international law developed that said colonialism really is a crime against humanity, and people who are colonized have a right to use any means at their disposal, including armed struggle, to fight that crime against humanity.</p> <p>JONES: You might say that that was a laudable goal, but their methods of obtaining it were obnoxious and atrocious to the American system of justice.</p> <p>Walter Jones Jr. was a federal prosecutor in Chicago who helped convict Torres and nine other accused FALN members in a 1981 trial.</p> <p>JONES: They were saboteurs. It wasn't like they were walking out in a uniform, telling people that &lsquo;We were openly declaring war on you,' but a cowardly act of leaving bombs lying around. It was the first time that we ever locked down the federal courthouse so that you had to come in through security. I certainly was frightened at the time.</p> <p>Authorities arrested others with alleged ties to Puerto Rican armed groups. And the movement lost steam.</p> <p>Years later, a campaign for the prisoners' release led to a 1999 clemency offer from President Clinton. The offer excluded Torres.</p> <p>Now he's spent three decades behind bars. The U.S. Parole Commission has agreed to let him go.</p> <p>José López, the cultural-center director, says Torres today is committed to a peaceful resolution of Puerto Rico's status with the United States.</p> <p>LOPEZ: He is a grandfather. He will come back and be part of that family. He will be part of the community that he comes to and he will definitely move to Puerto Rico. The others, excarcerated in 1999, have been doing a lot of good work, promoting Puerto Rican culture. I believe that Carlos will do the same thing.</p> <p>A Chicago caravan is picking Torres up at the prison this morning.</p> <p>When he walks free, the only accused FALN member still in prison will be López's brother Oscar. He refused Clinton's clemency and has been in for 29 years.<br /><br /><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content.aspx?audioID=43422">Freed Prisoner Defends Armed Struggle</a>: An interview with Carlos Alberto Torres.</strong></p></p> Mon, 26 Jul 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/local/puerto-ricans-welcome-freed-%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%CB%9Cpatriot%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2