WBEZ | Cook County State’s Attorney http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county-state%E2%80%99s-attorney Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Judge resentences Adolfo Davis to life in prison http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-resentences-adolfo-davis-life-prison-111863 <p><p><em>Update: May 4, 2015</em></p><p>***</p><p dir="ltr">A Cook County judge has upheld a life without parole sentence for a man who received that sentence for his part in a double murder when he was 14.</p><p dir="ltr">Adolfo Davis - now 38 - slumped forward and put his head down on the defense table this morning, wiping away tears, after Judge Angela Petrone reimposed a sentence of natural life without parole.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;This sentence is necessary to deter others. It is necessary to protect the public from harm. The defendant&#39;s acts showed an aggression and callous disregard for human life far beyond his tender age of 14,&quot; the judge said in issuing the sentence.</p><p dir="ltr">Davis was eligible for a resentencing hearing in his case because of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said mandatory life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional.</p><p dir="ltr">Davis was the first of about 80 inmates in Illinois eligible for such hearings, and today&#39;s decision by Judge Petrone was being widely watched.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">His defense attorneys say that they will appeal Petrone&#39;s decision.</p><p dir="ltr">In a statement, the Cook County State&#39;s Attorney&#39;s office said, &quot;Today, in the matter of the People of Illinois v. Adolfo Davis, we are very pleased with the Court&rsquo;s decision to reinstate the natural life sentence of this defendant. Based upon the heinous nature of this crime and the fact that Davis was an active and willing participant in these murders, we believe that this sentence is appropriate on behalf of the victims of this crime and their families, as well as the People of the State of Illinois.&quot; &nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;">***</p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: Eight years ago, reporter Linda Paul was reporting for WBEZ on life sentences without parole for juveniles. She came across the case of&nbsp;</em><em>Adolfo Davis,</em><em>&nbsp;who&rsquo;d received the sentence years before as a teenager. She went to visit Davis in prison and set out to understand the circumstances and crime that got him such a sentence. She visited him another time and has kept in touch with his case. This is her update on what has brought Adolfo Davis to his resentencing hearing today.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/200596176&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard, but let&rsquo;s try to wrap our heads around this: Up until about 10 years ago it was legal in the United States to sentence a juvenile to death.<br /><br />The last decade has been kind of a wild ride when it comes to U. S. Supreme Court proclamations on whether juveniles are different from adults when it comes to punishment for the most severe of crimes.<br /><br />In 2005, in a decision called Roper v Simmons, the Supreme Court banned the death penalty for minors. Then five years later the high court said it&rsquo;s unconstitutional to sentence a youth to life without the possibility of parole for a crime other than murder.<br /><br />And in 2012, in Miller v Alabama the Court held that mandatory life without parole sentences for young people under 18 are cruel and unusual punishment.<br /><br />Mandatory &mdash; as in a court had no discretion to choose a different sentence &mdash; even if the judge felt that circumstances called for it.</p><p>And Miller v Alabama says, when it comes to kids &mdash; that&rsquo;s a big problem. So now mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles are outlawed.<br /><br />That doesn&rsquo;t mean minors can&rsquo;t get life without parole. But Miller says the sentence should be rare. Judges are instructed to give great weight to youth-oriented factors like age, home environment, lack of adequate parenting or supervision, and capacity for rehabilitation.<br /><br />At the heart of Miller is the notion that juveniles are different than adults, more malleable than adults and are able to grow and change over time.<br /><br />One thing Miller didn&rsquo;t specify, is whether its ruling was retroactive. Should it apply to past cases? That&rsquo;s a battle being fought state by state.</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/DSC06448edited.jpg" style="float: left; height: 280px; width: 280px;" title="Adolfo Davis as an adult, while incarcerated at Menard Prison in southern Illinois (Linda Paul/ WBEZ)" /></div><p>Here in Illinois that question got settled last year in a case called People of the State of Illinois v Adolfo Davis. The Illinois Supreme Court said yes, Miller does apply retroactively. That opened the door to resentencing hearings for the 80 people in Illinois who&rsquo;ve received mandatory life without parole for crimes committed when they were juveniles.<br /><br />Now Adolfo Davis&rsquo; case is again at the forefront of these evolving legal practices, because today Davis will have one of the first post -Miller resentencing hearings in the state.<br /><br />All this is of interest to WBEZ, because we&rsquo;ve been following his case for years.<br /><br />I first met Adolfo Davis back in November of 2007. I&rsquo;d driven seven hours to Menard Prison at the southern tip of Illinois to interview a couple of people who received life without parole sentences when they were kids. At the time, I knew next to nothing about their cases.<br /><br />When I met Davis, the first thing I asked was - what name do you go by?</p><p>&ldquo;Spooncake,&rdquo; he told me.</p><p>Spooncake? Later I found out that&rsquo;s the name for an old southern dish, a rich gooey chocolate cake.&nbsp; His family had other nicknames for him including &ldquo;Catsugar,&rdquo; an affectionate term concocted by his grandmother, Fannie Davis.</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/grandma%20Fannie%20Davisedited.jpg" style="height: 278px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Fannie Davis, Adolfo’s grandmother, now deceased. (Linda Paul/ WBEZ)" />I met Fannie Davis just once. She&rsquo;s no longer alive, but back then Davis called his grandmother &ldquo;my heart.&rdquo; Fannie told me that in the months before Adolfo was arrested, her husband died and one of her twelve children was murdered.</div><p>But it&rsquo;s what happened to Adolfo that particularly haunted her.</p><p>&ldquo;I would see him in my sleep. I would hear him callin&rsquo; me. And that would just pull me all the way down to nuthin,&rsquo;&rdquo; she told me.<br /><br />Fannie described Adolfo as a boy who liked to play with any kind of animals, including cats, dogs and fish. When I asked what kind of kid he was, she gave what seemed like a scrupulously honest answer: &ldquo;Pretty good. I ain&rsquo;t gonna say he was the best. But he was good.&rdquo;<br /><br />When Adolfo was a child, Fannie&nbsp; worried about his insomnia and his strange habit of knocking his head against the wall until it bled. Reports of this behavior are documented in DCFS records that existed years before the crime that landed him in prison.<br /><br />At that time Fannie Davis was overwhelmed. She worked all day and came home to a husband who was disabled and bedridden, a son who was mentally disabled, and a daughter &mdash; Adolfo&rsquo;s mother &mdash; who was a drug addict and had not made it far enough in school to know how to read or write very well.<br /><br />&ldquo;She didn&rsquo;t care &lsquo;bout nothing I did,&rdquo; Adolfo said about his mother. &ldquo; I went to school dirty. She didn&rsquo;t care, as long as she got that check once a month,&rdquo; he said. At trial when asked when Adolfo&rsquo;s birthday was, court records show that Karen Davis didn&rsquo;t know.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A criminal career at a young age</span></p><p>In the months after I met Adolfo Davis, I tracked down three of Davis&rsquo; early defense lawyers and two of his prosecutors. David O&rsquo;Connor was one of the original prosecutors at Davis&rsquo; trial and he had strong memories of Adolfo as a young teenager.<br /><br />&ldquo;Adolfo Davis?&rdquo; O&rsquo;Connor asked. &ldquo;Any time you&#39;re talking about a juvenile who started a criminal career at the age of eight and had an armed robbery under his belt by the age of ten, and then at the age of fourteen commits a double murder? Ummm, I think that says quite a bit about that juvenile.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /><br />It became apparent pretty quickly, that the narrative of Davis&rsquo; crime varied widely with which person told the story. And that remains true with the lawyers who are involved in his case 24 years after the fact.<br /><br />Everyone seems to agree that a turf war was raging between two factions of a single gang on the South Side of Chicago. Gang members were arguing over who could sell drugs where.<br /><br />After that, the stories diverge.<br /><br />Defense attorneys tell me that Adolfo Davis himself assumes responsibility for participating in a robbery that turned into a shooting by the two older teenagers he was with.<br /><br />He was told to act as a look-out, Patricia Soung tells me. Soung is staff attorney at the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy in Los Angeles. She&rsquo;s also co-counsel for Davis and will help represent him at the resentencing hearing today.<br /><br />&ldquo;I believe that he was instructed and peer pressured into a crime that he felt like he couldn&rsquo;t say no to,&rdquo; says Patricia Soung.</p><p>Prosecutors have long scoffed at the description of Davis as a mere lookout. They claim he participated in a revenge killing after one of the older members of his gang got slapped. And prior to the crime, they say, Davis discussed with his co-defendants, who should live and who should die.</p><p>&ldquo;He was an active participant in the planning, as well as in the shooting and killing,&rdquo; said Alan Spellberg, supervisor of the criminal appeals division for the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office.</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that these comments from Alan Spellberg are from years ago. Today, his office can&rsquo;t talk to the media about Adolfo Davis. That&rsquo;s because Davis&rsquo; case is now pending.&nbsp; But in the past, Spellberg did talk to me about it and he said, &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t determine for sure that he fired the gun that killed either of the victims. But we do know from the physical evidence that three different guns were fired at the time.&rdquo;<br /><br />Patricia Soung disputes this entirely. &ldquo;That conclusion is just not supportable,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The evidence showed that there were two kinds of bullets found in the victims.&rdquo;<br /><br />The two murders and two attempted murders took place in a drug house &mdash; a South Side apartment where drugs were sold and guns were stashed. Detectives found a third type of bullet embedded in a windowsill at the crime scene. But at trial, Soung says, a ballistics expert testified that it was impossible to determine the age of that bullet.<br /><br />&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t know when that bullet was lodged in the windowsill,&rdquo; says Soung. &ldquo;It could have been lodged there any time and there&rsquo;s nothing to show that it was shot from a gun on the night that the shooting take place in this case.&rdquo;<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Accountability is key</span></p><p>In that conversation with Alan Spellberg from years ago, he pointed out that whether Adolfo Davis actually shot someone that night really isn&rsquo;t so critical.<br /><br />&ldquo;Under the law it didn&rsquo;t matter who the shooter was,&rdquo; Spellberg told me at the time. &ldquo;Because if Adolfo Davis was an active participant in the crime and in the planning,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;he was just as responsible for the murder, whether or not he fired the fatal bullet or not.&rdquo;<br /><br />That&rsquo;s because of this thing in the law called &ldquo;accountability theory.&rdquo;<br /><br />Accountability is the legal theory that a person can be held responsible for the behavior of others if he or she was an active participant in the planning or committing of a crime.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s no way to know for sure if Adolfo Davis was convicted via accountability theory. But there are clues that he was.<br /><br />For one,&nbsp; instructions on accountability (and other theories) were given to jurors, as they were preparing to deliberate.<br /><br />Additionally, during deliberation, jurors passed this note out to the judge:</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/LSP-Notefromjurors.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Note submitted to the judge while the jury was deliberating a verdict at Adolfo Davis' trial. In answer to the question asking if a Defendant actually has to be proven to pull the trigger of the murder weapon during a home invasion, the judge answered: 'No, period.' In answer to the question asking if that person would be legally responsible for the conduct of another who did, the judge answered 'yes.'" /></div><p><br />They asked if a defendant actually has to be proven to pull the trigger of the murder weapon during a home invasion? The judge answered: &ldquo;No, period.&rdquo; And jurors asked if that person (presumably the defendant) would be legally responsible for the conduct of another who did? The judge answered &ldquo;yes.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Stateville visit</span><br /><br />A couple of years ago I went to the sprawling Stateville Correctional Facility to talk to Adolfo Davis for a second time.<br /><br />Adolfo Davis knew this facility well. At 17, when he was first transferred there from Joliet youth prison, he was the youngest person in the general population, he tells me.<br /><br />I wasn&rsquo;t surprised to learn that at the time of his arrest &mdash; when he had barely turned 14 &mdash; Davis didn&rsquo;t understand the nuances of accountability theory.<br /><br />Adolfo Davis told me that after the crime he wasn&rsquo;t even trying to hide from police. In his young mind he hadn&rsquo;t done anything seriously wrong.<br /><br />Police had come to the house looking for Davis and when he got home Fannie, called them.<br /><br />&ldquo;My grandmother called the police because I honestly think I didn&rsquo;t do nothing,&rdquo; says Davis. &ldquo;I was like &lsquo;I ain&rsquo;t kill nobody, I&rsquo;m cool.&rsquo;&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis pauses. And says, &ldquo;But it didn&rsquo;t work out that way.&rdquo;<br /><br />It didn&rsquo;t work out that way because the jury found him guilty.<br /><br />And it didn&rsquo;t work out that way in part because of the times. It was the early 1990&rsquo;s.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was a time,&rdquo; Shobha Mahadev tells me &rdquo;when criminologists were promoting the notion that there was going to be a wave of juvenile super predators &mdash; that the sky was falling &mdash; that we were about to see a generation of young people who would wreak havoc on our cities and put us in fear.&ldquo;<br /><br />Mahadev is an assistant professor of law at Northwestern&rsquo;s Children and Family Justice Center. She says the super predator idea is now widely considered to have been a myth.<br /><br />Legislatures across the country were creating laws, Mahadev asserts, that expanded the chance of juveniles being treated as adults in the criminal system.<br /><br />And that&rsquo;s what happened to Davis.<br /><br />The legal event that probably most contributed to Davis&rsquo; life without parole sentence was a proceeding called a transfer hearing. Should Adolfo Davis be tried in juvenile court where he could get a sentence of only a few years?&nbsp;Would that be enough time for him to turn his life around? Or should he be tried in adult court?<br /><br />At the transfer hearing Adolfo Davis&rsquo; probation officer testified, saying he favored Davis going into the adult system. He described him as &ldquo;a very sick child.&rdquo; He testified that in his opinion a few years in juvenile prison would not be sufficient to handle the severity of his problems.</p><p>The probation officer said he believed there would be facilities in the adult system that could offer treatment and rehabilitation to Adolfo Davis. And he saw that as important because he saw Davis as not only a threat to the public, but also a threat to himself.</p><p>This probation officer, by the way, had warned DCFS to place Davis in a structured secure facility, but not to put him in a temporary shelter because he would run away and he wouldn&rsquo;t be able to get the intensive evaluations he needed.</p><p>DCFS did exactly what the probation officer said not to do. And Adolfo Davis ran away. That happened just a few days before the murders took place.</p><p>Davis&rsquo; lawyer tried to ask the probation officer if he thought Davis needed to be in prison for the rest of his life. And she said that if convicted of double homicide, Davis would get a sentence of natural life.</p><p>The judge asked if the prosecutor agreed, because if so &ldquo;we have to get that in the record.&rdquo;</p><p>The prosecutor answered: &ldquo;No, judge, that is not what the law is.&rdquo; And the judge said they&rsquo;d get to it later.</p><p>The defense attorney was not able to ask the probation officer if he understood that a transfer to adult court could result in life without parole for Davis.</p><p>Davis was transferred to adult court.</p><p>The judge at that time observed that in some ways Davis had &ldquo;fallen through the cracks.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A chaotic family life&nbsp;</span></p><p>His grandmother loved him dearly but DCFS records say she couldn&rsquo;t provide the structure he needed.<br /><br />&ldquo;Because my grandmother taking care of everybody else, and everybody got their little checks and buy drugs with it,&rdquo; Davis says. &ldquo;People would do what they want with that money. Instead of putting food in the house.&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis claims that at an early age he&rsquo;d pump gas for people in exchange for a bit of change. And he says sometimes at the end of the day he and his friends would go hang out at a Dunkin Donuts or a Kentucky Fried Chicken, to snare food that was being thrown out in the dumpsters.<br /><br />By 10 years old, Davis had committed his first robbery and he joined a gang at about 11, he says. After that his crime life escalated to stealing cars, shoplifting, burglary, theft, possession of marijuana and armed robbery.<br /><br />About 10 months before the double murder, Davis used a knife to commit two robberies on a single day. Records say he went through the pockets of his victims and netted $3 in one instance and $2 in another.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Mandatory life without parole</span></p><p>When Adolfo Davis was found guilty in adult court- by statute, the judge had no choice but to sentence him to life without parole.<br /><br />&ldquo;Under the statute that I got convicted of, it says if you get convicted of two murders without a reasonable doubt &mdash; you get natural life,&rdquo; Davis tells me. &ldquo;Now if I would have got convicted of another statute, I might would not have got this time. So that&rsquo;s the reason why I have been given life. And that&rsquo;s the reason why so much is being talked about the statute now is because you ain&rsquo;t giving the judge the discretion to evaluate you and say no, he don&rsquo;t deserve no natural life.&quot;<br /><br />It gradually dawned on Davis that he really would spend his entire life in prison, and that he would die there &ndash; and he became despondent, rebellious, and at times suicidal.<br /><br />&ldquo;I honestly felt for years like man, I felt so angry,&rdquo; says Davis. &ldquo;Like man I ain&rsquo;t did nothing. But when I faced reality I was like &mdash; I did do something.&rdquo;</p><p>In adulthood, Adolfo Davis says he has come to terms with his responsibility for the role he played in this massive crime. I ask if he ever thinks about the people who got killed.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, all the time,&rdquo; he says. Especially about one of the victims, who he knew well. &ldquo;Little Keith. man, I had memories with him when we was going to school together. We used to take the lunch trays and at the school, go up on top of the roof and just eat and just kick it.&nbsp; We used to steal cars together. We used to go to hustle together,&rsquo;&rdquo; Davis says. He says Little Keith was one of his best friends.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">The beginnings of maturity</span></p><p>Davis began to become more mature and to renounce his gang affiliation in an unlikely place.</p><p>After many behavioral tickets for fighting and other disruptive behaviors in prison, at 21 Davis was transferred to Tamms Supermax Prison, just a month after it opened.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LSP-Jill-Stevens-A.jpg" style="height: 201px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="For over 4 years, Jill Stevens was Adolfo Davis' therapist at Tamms Supermax Prison. 'I feel confident that the vast majority of people on the street would agree that a 14 year old who has not killed anyone — he should not be in prison for his entire life without even the possibility of going before a parole board,' Stevens said at Davis' clemency hearing in April of 2012." />That&rsquo;s where he met licensed clinical counselor Jill Stevens, who was his therapist for over four years. Adolfo Davis was unique she says, in terms of&nbsp; maintaining a positive attitude in spite of coming from such a &ldquo;hideous&rdquo; background. His drive to help other kids not make the same mistakes he had, impressed her.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s so sad to me that this is somebody who.. yeah, he slipped through the cracks of that family,&rdquo; Stevens says, &ldquo;and&nbsp; they were big cracks. Then he slipped through the cracks of social services &mdash; and juvenile justice systems.&rdquo;</p><p>Jill Stevens&rsquo; view of Davis contrasts sharply with the picture painted of him at a clemency hearing back in April of 2012. Adolfo Davis had asked Gov. Pat&nbsp; Quinn for a pardon and Assistant State&rsquo;s Attorney Diane Sheridan argued sharply against it: &ldquo;Defendant was a full-fledged, gun-toting, planning out, methodical sophisticated beyond his years, cold-blooded killer,&rdquo; Sheridan said.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Resentencing hearings, case by case</span><br /><br />Today is the first of what will be scores of resentencing hearings in Cook County, stemming from the Miller decision. In these cases prosecutors say they will not automatically take the view that each defendant should receive the most severe sentence possible.<br /><br />Alan Spellberg of the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office tells me that they will consider the effect on victims, the effect on the community and all the factors delineated in the Miller decision. &ldquo;And so we&rsquo;re going to consider each and every single factor independently and individually in every single case,&rdquo; Spellberg says.<br /><br />Meanwhile in this case defense lawyers plan to present a flurry of witnesses who will testify that Adolfo Davis the man, is transformed. He&rsquo;s nothing like that 14 year old who participated in a gruesome crime almost 25 years ago.<br />&nbsp;</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/addolfo%20diplomasedited.jpg" style="height: 299px; width: 620px;" title="Adolfo Davis' high school diploma &amp; other academic certificates" /></div><p><br />While waiting for a verdict Davis was locked up in what used to be called the Audy Home, Cook County&rsquo;s jail for kids. He attended school and had three&nbsp; meals per day At first he acted out a lot. But over time, he thrived. Davis&rsquo; lawyers have shown me written evaluations that praise Davis&rsquo; progress.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s important to note &mdash; all that improvement happened prior to Davis even receiving his mandatory sentence of life without parole.<br /><br />But is proof of rehabilitation enough? Not necessarily. Because penological goals are varied. And sentences need to consider both retribution and rehabilitation. And other factors too.<br /><br />Northwestern University&rsquo;s Shobha Mahadev says the Supreme Court has been trying to impress on courts that: &ldquo;Children are different and their rehabilitation and their ability to grow and change into different people than they were at the time of their childhood is what is paramount here.&rdquo;</p><p>In some ways these resentencing hearings offer a unique moment. Maybe even an unprecedented moment.<br /><br />Because judges get a do-over. They&rsquo;re not examining whether rehabilitation is possible. They&rsquo;re seeing whether it became a reality.</p></p> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-resentences-adolfo-davis-life-prison-111863 Should ban on mandatory life without parole encompass old juvie cases? http://www.wbez.org/news/should-ban-mandatory-life-without-parole-encompass-old-juvie-cases-109516 <p><p>In the summer of 2012, in a case called <em>Miller v. Alabama</em>, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles are cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore unconstitutional.</p><p>The key word here is &ldquo;mandatory.&rdquo; In the 1980s and 90s there was a lot of talk about young &ldquo;super predators&rdquo; and almost every state enacted tougher punishment for juveniles who committed violent crimes. Illinois was no exception.</p><p>The Supreme Court said that mandatory sentences don&rsquo;t let a judge consider extenuating circumstances such as the person&rsquo;s age, home life, how involved he was in the crime,&nbsp; and the potential for rehabilitation.</p><p>But the decision didn&rsquo;t entirely rule out life without parole sentences for juveniles&mdash;though the Court said they should be used only sparingly.</p><h2><strong>Thorny legal question</strong></h2><p>In its wake, <em>Miller</em> has raised a thorny legal question: Should it also apply to people in prison who as juveniles received mandatory life without parole sentences but now their appeals are over, and their case is closed?</p><p>The question has come up because several such people have requested new sentencing&nbsp; hearings. And Illinois&rsquo;s Appellate Court, citing the Miller decision, granted at least five of them &ndash; unanimously.</p><p>One of those five people is Addolfo Davis. Davis was arrested two months past his 14th birthday and he&rsquo;s never seen the streets since.</p><p>Today he&rsquo;s 37 and has spent almost two-thirds of his life behind bars. It&rsquo;s Addolfo&rsquo;s case that will be presented in oral arguments today, January 15, before the Illinois Supreme Court.Patricia Soung, who will represent Davis, tells WBEZ that on the night of his crime he went with two older co-defendants, at their instruction, to rob an apartment.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Two people were shot and killed that night by the two older co-defendants,&ldquo; she tells us. &ldquo;Davis was convicted of double homicide as an accomplice,&rdquo; she says, and ultimately received a mandatory life without parole sentence.</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/MILLER%20NEW_1.png" style="height: 280px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="WBEZ/Patrick Smith" />Alan Spellberg, who&rsquo;s supervisor of the criminal appeals division of the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office, will represent the State of Illinois at the oral arguments. He has a different version of what happened that night.Davis, he says &ldquo;was an active participant in the planning, as well as in the shooting and killing.&rdquo;</div><p>The lawyers won&rsquo;t just be arguing the facts of the Davis case this day. They&rsquo;ll also debate whether <em>Miller v. Alabama</em> is so ground-breaking that it should apply to cases that are already settled.</p><p>Patricia Soung explains that &ldquo;the United States Supreme Court created two categories of rules that should be applied retroactively &ndash; &lsquo;substantive&rsquo; and &lsquo;watershed&rsquo; rules of criminal procedure.&rdquo;</p><p>In her opinion Miller is so sweeping that it falls into both categories.But not everyone agrees.</p><h2><strong>High bar</strong></h2><p>How exactly the court differentiates substantive from watershed is complex and open to interpretation.</p><p>I&rsquo;m not the only one who thinks these definitions can get murky.</p><p>Matt Jones, associate director of the Illinois Office of the State&rsquo;s Attorney, Appellate Prosecutor, thinks so too.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a sort of, I know it when I see it,&rdquo; he says, talking about whether a rule rises to a level worthy of being considered retroactive. &ldquo;Can we have a fair criminal justice system without this new procedural change?&rdquo; Matt Jones asks. &ldquo;If we can&rsquo;t -- then it&rsquo;s the kind of rule that has to be applied retroactively.&rdquo;</p><p>However. If we can have a fair system without the change, he says, it&rsquo;s something that should be implemented moving forward to improve the system &ldquo;but not something that we should necessarily go back and undo every case that has been done,&rdquo; he explains. &ldquo;Even if there are questions about whether each and every case was fair.&rdquo;</p><p>Jones says the U.S Supreme Court almost never considers a new rule earth-shaking enough to actually do this.</p><p>&ldquo;And I will tell you that the only instance that they&rsquo;ve ever cited as an example of that was <em>Gideon</em> &ndash; the right to counsel.&rdquo;</p><p>Counsel, that is, for defendants in criminal cases who couldn&rsquo;t afford to pay for an attorney. That seems like a rather high bar. One that Miller doesn&rsquo;t reach, according to many prosecutors across Illinois. I asked Patricia Soung if she&rsquo;s worried that the Miller decision isn&rsquo;t significant enough to meet that standard.</p><p>Turns out, she&rsquo;s not.</p><p>&ldquo;<em>Gideon</em> provided due process where none existed before and<em> Miller</em> does the same thing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It gives you counsel where you essentially had no counsel at sentencing. The proceeding was made hollow because you were denied an opportunity to have your counsel present, mitigating factors in the same way as in<em> Gideon</em> a defendant without counsel had no opportunity to provide an adequate defense.&nbsp; So in both cases we&rsquo;re talking about providing due process where no due process existed at all.&rdquo;</p><p>Introducing the possibility of re-sentencing hearings for juvenile life without parole cases from long ago introduces a difficult problem. There could potentially be hundreds of victims and first-hand witnesses who&rsquo;ve been assured that the perpetrators are imprisoned for life.</p><p>&ldquo;Not only are the family members dragged back through this process,&rdquo; Matt Jones explains, &ldquo;but now key witnesses who depended upon this certainty that a conviction means a conviction, that life means life-- are now going to have be dragged back potentially through the process. Now with a re-sentencing you may not have to have those key witnesses come back, but their lives are similarly put on pins and needles awaiting the outcome of this person getting out. And life doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean life for those witnesses.&rdquo;</p><p>These are gut-wrenching concerns, and so the Illinois Supreme Court will be venturing into complicated and emotional territory.</p><p>Court watchers expect a decision by the summer.</p><p><em>Clarification: While today&rsquo;s oral arguments were pending, Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Alan Spellberg declined WBEZ&rsquo;s request for an interview. &nbsp;With permission from the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office, WBEZ used tape of &nbsp;Spellberg from an interview conducted in March of 2012 whrn we were preparing a story about Addolfo Davis&rsquo; bid for clemency.&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 Jan 2014 01:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/should-ban-mandatory-life-without-parole-encompass-old-juvie-cases-109516 Cook County prosecutors shave time off sentences for El Rukn hitmen http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-prosecutors-shave-time-sentences-el-rukn-hitmen-109230 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Nathson Fields.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In the 1980s Nathson Fields was an El Rukn gang member. He was convicted of a double murder, but it was thrown out when the judge in the case, Thomas Maloney, was convicted of taking bribes. In his retrial Fields was found not guilty.</p><p>Cook County Judge Paul Biebel granted Fields a certificate of innocence but the State&rsquo;s attorney&rsquo;s office under Anita Alvarez appealed that and won, leading to a second petition for a certificate of innocence.&nbsp; Prosecutors are fighting that petition in court.</p><p>During a weeks-long hearing that ended Friday afternoon, two El Rukn gang members testified that Fields did indeed commit the murders. But Earl Hawkins and Derrick Kees aren&rsquo;t the most credible witnesses. Each has participated in more than a dozen murders, according to attorneys and court transcripts.</p><p>Fields&rsquo; attorneys say they&rsquo;ve never heard of a case of prosecutors shaving the sentences of murderers in exchange for testimony in a civil matter. Fields is suing the City of Chicago and a certificate of innocence would help that. Judge Biebel says he&rsquo;ll have a decision on the request for a certificate of innocence by the end of February.</p></p> Fri, 22 Nov 2013 16:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-prosecutors-shave-time-sentences-el-rukn-hitmen-109230 In Cook County, you can be found not guilty, and still go back to jail http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-you-can-be-found-not-guilty-and-still-go-back-jail-108758 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Cook County Jail.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F112453764" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5e307626-523e-fed3-04c3-447ac1fc4ec8">Brian Otero spent nearly two years in Cook County Jail waiting to go to trial for a burglary. The jury found him not guilty, but he didn&rsquo;t get to leave the courtroom like they do on TV. No, he was brought back into the Cook County Jail to be &ldquo;processed&rdquo; out. He was put in a small cell just off the front of the courtroom, to eventually be brought back into the jail.</p><p dir="ltr">Now remember, at this point, there are no charges against Otero, yet he&rsquo;s being detained against his will because that&rsquo;s just how we&rsquo;ve always done it in Cook County. Defendants who have been held in jail awaiting trial are brought back into the jail. They can be handcuffed, searched, and locked back up in their cell even though there are no charges against them.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Sheriff Tom Dart and county officials are doing little to change the seemingly unconstitutional practice and that could cost taxpayers millions</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>&quot;Free&quot; man</strong></p><p dir="ltr">On his way back into the jail after acquittal, Otero was put in a holding cell with a number of other inmates and three men attacked him.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They approached me and asked me, &lsquo;Did you win your case, are you going home today?&rsquo;&rdquo; Otero said in an interview in his attorney&#39;s Loop law office. &ldquo;Upon me saying &lsquo;yes&rsquo; one of them swung at me and when he swung at me the other two grabbed me and they started hitting me all over my body.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Otero says two of his friends were in the same bullpen, and they pulled his attackers off but he had a busted lip and a sprained hand.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;To this day I got a torn ligament in my hand, but I did not seek or ask for no medical attention. &nbsp;I just let it be because I was just trying to hurry up and get out as fast as I can,&rdquo; said Otero.</p><p dir="ltr">Otero was eventually brought back to his cell, to wait. Ten hours after he was acquitted he was finally released from the jail.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When I walked out the front gate from division 5 onto the streets, it was 4 o&rsquo;clock in the morning.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Presumed innocent</strong></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Mr Otero, when he walks into that trial is assumed innocent, right? &nbsp;And then he is found innocent, so the system ought to be better prepared to do this,&rdquo; says Otero&rsquo;s attorney Mike Cherry.</p><p dir="ltr">Cherry is suing Cook County and Sheriff Tom Dart on behalf of Brian Otero and other detainees. He says he thinks the practice of jailing people when they&rsquo;ve been found not guilty would offend most Americans&rsquo; sense of justice. On top of that, he says, it doesn&rsquo;t happen to people with money. It happens mostly to poor people, people who were in jail before trial because they couldn&rsquo;t afford to post bond.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Basically the lawsuit challenges as unconstitutional this process that happened, because it denies him his freedom,&rdquo; says Cherry. He says when Otero was acquitted he should have been released.</p><p dir="ltr">Sheriff Tom Dart, who runs the jail, says he wishes that were case too.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to get people out of the jail as quickly as possible for a myriad of reasons, whether it&#39;s just general overcrowding issues, potential liability issues, everything,&rdquo; Dart said in an interview with WBEZ in May of this year.</p><p dir="ltr">The sheriff didn&rsquo;t have a solution for the problem then, but said,&rdquo;I do think that probably in the next few weeks some of these limited cases, the limited ones, we probably can come up with some things, so if you circle back, you know in the next couple weeks, we could have something on some of them.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">I circled back, and I circled back again. Weeks turned into months and so far the grand solution is riding on two personal computers in the basement of the courthouse in north suburban Skokie.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Skokie pilot program</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Cook County has one jail but a number of courthouses, so every morning buses leave the jail at 26th and California on the city&rsquo;s Southwest Side, filled with detainees who have hearings at courthouses around the county. In Skokie, a bus from the jail drives into a secure garage in the basement. The detainees are nearly silent as they file two by two, handcuffed together, off the bus and past an officer who checks them in.</p><p dir="ltr">The new computers here emit beeping sounds every time an officer scans a detainee&#39;s I.D. card. The two computers are the start of a plan to finally digitize some of the paperwork in the jail, and a spokeswoman for Dart say it&rsquo;s possible that the update could potentially, one day, possibly allow people to be immediately released from courtrooms when they&rsquo;re acquitted.</p><p dir="ltr">But I ask Kelly Jackson, the chief of the civil division for Sheriff Dart, how long that will take?</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t even answer that for you. I have no idea,&rdquo; Jackson said. &ldquo;Skokie&rsquo;s operating right now but it&rsquo;s the only one of the 17 court facilities that are doing that. There would be no way to estimate if we could, when we&rsquo;ll finish rolling it out everywhere, and where our legal department and the state&rsquo;s attorneys office will take us with that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">A spokeswoman for Dart says starting this week they&rsquo;re going to allow people found not guilty to leave from the Skokie courthouse. They still won&rsquo;t be walking right out of the courtroom, but at least they won&rsquo;t have to go back on the bus to the jail at 26th and California. It&rsquo;s a start.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>A court system stuck in past</strong></p><p dir="ltr">But even if the sheriff&rsquo;s office makes the technological leap to the 1990s in all 17 courthouses, the rest of the Cook County court system under Clerk of Courts Dorothy Brown is pretty solidly stuck in the 70s. The whole court system is paper and carbon copies. That presents a problem for Lt. Charles Luna when he&rsquo;s supposed to release someone from the jail.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re still using carbon paper in the courts, so the clerks actually write on the mittimuses that are carbon paper, actually, the duplicates, so in order to transfer the records to the jail, it&rsquo;s actually in triplicate I believe, because one is kept in the court in the clerk&rsquo;s office and then two are sent to the jail for our purposes,&rdquo; says Luna. Whatever the case, it&rsquo;s a lot of paper and before Luna lets an inmate out of the jail he has to organize and verify the inmate&rsquo;s entire court file, which can be several inches thick with those carbon copies.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;At times it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack,&rdquo; Luna said.</p><p dir="ltr">But that doesn&rsquo;t do anything to sway attorney Mike Cherry, who is suing Cook County on behalf of Brian Otero, the guy at the beginning of the story who was found not guilty and then taken back into the jail where he was assaulted. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have one ounce of pity when a system says I&rsquo;ve got to take advantage of someone because it&rsquo;s too complicated for me to protect the innocent. &nbsp;That&rsquo;s crazy,&rdquo; &nbsp;says Cherry. It&rsquo;s also potentially very costly.</p><p dir="ltr">Ten years ago Los Angeles County had to pay out $27 million to people who&#39;d been held in the jail after they were acquitted.</p><p dir="ltr">While it&rsquo;s Sheriff Dart who is detaining people, it&rsquo;s Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez who tells Dart what he needs to do to comply with the constitution. For two weeks Alvarez&rsquo;s office has failed to provide WBEZ with any explanation as to whether the current practices are constitutional, or what her office is doing to ensure Cook County doesn&rsquo;t have to pay out millions in settlements arising from this practice of detaining people after they&rsquo;ve been found not guilty.</p><p dir="ltr">Attorney Mike Cherry says he hopes his lawsuit is expensive enough that it finally forces the county to do something.</p></p> Wed, 25 Sep 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-you-can-be-found-not-guilty-and-still-go-back-jail-108758 Daley’s nephew charged with involuntary manslaughter http://www.wbez.org/news/daley%E2%80%99s-nephew-charged-involuntary-manslaughter-104168 <p><p>A grand jury indicted Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s nephew Monday for his alleged role in the 2004 death of David Koschman. The 21-year-old victim was injured in a fight outside a bar on Rush Street and died in the hospital 11 days later.</p><p>Richard J. Vanecko, who is the the son of former Mayor Daley&rsquo;s sister, was charged with involuntary manslaughter Monday after a 6-month investigation. He allegedly punched Koschman in the face and departed the scene in a cab. The investigation, conducted by Cook County special prosecutor Dan Webb, also includes an inquiry into how the case was initially&nbsp;handled and why no charges were filed.</p><p>Nanci Koschman, David Koschman&rsquo;s mother, said the police detective she spoke to in 2004 blamed the incident on her son.</p><p>&ldquo;When that detective came in and said it&rsquo;s all your son&rsquo;s fault, it&rsquo;s all his responsibility, that&rsquo;s like a knife through a mother&rsquo;s heart,&rdquo; she said, tearing up repeatedly in a press conference Monday. &ldquo;He told me I&rsquo;d be impressed by the names of the people that were involved with the case, and that if I tried to sue, they would keep me tied up in court for years.&rdquo;</p><p>Koschman said when she realized there would be no investigation, she threw up her hands.</p><p>&ldquo;My dad used to have a saying to my sister and me, you can&rsquo;t fight City Hall. I never really thought that I was gonna go anywhere,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But in April of this year, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Toomin appointed Webb to the case.</p><p>&ldquo;Now at least I see that with a lot of good people behind you, good things can happen,&rdquo; said Koschman. She was accompanied by Locke Bowman, legal director of the Solange and Roderick Macarthur Justice Center at Northwestern Law School, and two attorneys from the People&rsquo;s Law Office.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons Mr. Bowman and myself got involved in this case was because of the, to put it kindly, the irregularities in this investigation over an eight-year period,&rdquo; said Flint Taylor, partner at the People&rsquo;s Law Office.</p><p>&ldquo;The failures to properly investigate and to indict eight years ago speak volumes about the inadequacies of that investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>Mr. Vanecko&rsquo;s arraignment is set for December 10.</p></p> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 17:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/daley%E2%80%99s-nephew-charged-involuntary-manslaughter-104168 Steep bond for NATO protesters held on bomb charges http://www.wbez.org/news/steep-bond-nato-protesters-held-bomb-charges-99354 <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/Gelsomino1cropscale.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 177px; height: 230px;" title="Defense attorney Sarah Gelsomino on Sunday afternoon calls the amounts ‘punitive.’ (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p>A Cook County judge set steep bonds Sunday afternoon for two more activists accused of planning violence during the NATO summit.</p><p>Criminal Court Judge Israel Desierto set a $750,000 bond for Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, a Chicago resident charged with falsely making a terrorist threat. Desierto set a $500,000 bond for Mark Neiweem, 28, a Chicago resident charged with solicitation for explosives or incendiary devices.</p><p>&ldquo;These bonds are extremely high and punitively so, as a result of the sensationalized and politicized allegations that the state&rsquo;s attorneys raised today,&rdquo; said Sarah Gelsomino, an attorney representing the defendants.</p><p>Jack Blakey, head of special prosecutions for the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office, declined to comment about the bond hearing after reading a prepared statement about the charges.</p><p>Blakey said Senakiewicz identified himself as an anarchist and part of the Black Bloc movement and claimed several times he had bombs. At one point, Senakiewicz said he had &ldquo;two homemade explosives that could blow up half of an overpass for a train and that he was holding off on using them until NATO,&rdquo; Blakey said. Prosecutors said a search of Senakiewicz&rsquo;s home did not turn up any explosives.</p><p>Blakey said Neiweem told an associate about a store where materials to make a pipe bomb could be purchased, then &ldquo;pressed a piece of paper into the palm of the associate&rsquo;s hand and stated that, if the associate obtained the items and brought them to his house, then they could create a bomb.&rdquo;</p><p>On Saturday, Cook County Judge Edward S. Harmening set $1.5 million bonds for three other activists, all charged with terrorism conspiracy, possession of explosives or incendiary devices and providing material support for terrorism. Authorities accused the trio of possessing Molotov cocktails and planning or proposing attacks on President Barack Obama&rsquo;s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s home, four police stations and financial institutions downtown.</p><p>Prosecutors called those three defendants &ldquo;self-proclaimed anarchists&rdquo; and listed them as Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire; Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Brent Betterly, 24, of Massachusetts.</p><p>Chase, Church and Betterly were among nine people arrested during a Wednesday night police raid in the Bridgeport neighborhood. The raid targeted the apartment of some leaders of Occupy Chicago, a group leading protests against the summit. Senakiewicz and Neiweem were arrested Thursday at other locations.</p><p>Prosecutors said all five cases stem from the same investigation.</p><p>Defense attorneys said authorities built all the cases using an informant duo &mdash; a man who went by the name &ldquo;Mo&rdquo; and a woman who went by &ldquo;Gloves.&rdquo; The attorneys said that the duo tried to manufacture crimes.</p><p>Defense attorneys also claim that authorities targeted the activists for their political beliefs.</p><p>Court filings by prosecutors state that most of the defendants self-identify as anarchists. State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez, questioned Saturday about the relevance to the criminal case, answered that &ldquo;some of the techniques that they were exhibiting all go in line with their beliefs.&rdquo;</p><p>Another possible issue is the length of time authorities held the defendants before allowing them to go before a judge. The bond hearing for Senakiewicz and Neiweem did not occur until almost three full days after their arrests. Their attorneys say neither defendant had an earlier opportunity to see a judge.</p><p>Leonard Cavise, a DePaul University law professor, points to a 1991 judicial ruling. &ldquo;The United States Supreme Court has said that the police have an obligation to get the defendant in front of a judge as soon as practically possible but not longer than 48 hours,&rdquo; Cavise says. &ldquo;The reason we have this 48-hour rule is because we want to get the person away from the police as soon as possible before they coerce a confession out of them.&rdquo;</p><p>Violating that rule, Cavise adds, could lead a judge to throw out any confession from trial.</p><p>Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the state&rsquo;s attorney, insisted that Senakiewicz and Neiweem were held according to the law.</p></p> Sun, 20 May 2012 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/steep-bond-nato-protesters-held-bomb-charges-99354 ICE offer on ‘detainer’ costs draws mixed reaction http://www.wbez.org/story/ice-offer-%E2%80%98detainer%E2%80%99-costs-draws-mixed-reaction-96861 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-29/By Bill Healy - July 27 2011 - 001-CROPPED.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Commissioner Jesús García (D-Chicago)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-29/By Bill Healy - July 27 2011 - 001-CROPPED.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 6px 1px; float: left; width: 321px; height: 205px;" title="Commissioner Jesús García (D-Chicago) says accepting the offer would have a chilling effect on local policing. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)">Cook County officials are voicing mixed reactions to an extraordinary U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offer to cover the costs of holding some inmates beyond what their criminal cases require.</p><p>County Board Commissioner Jesús García (D-Chicago) said keeping people locked up after they’ve posted bond, served their sentence or had their charges dismissed would violate constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Accepting ICE’s offer, he added, would have “a significant chilling effect” on local policing.</p><p>“The county would be seen as an extension of ICE, operating within local government,” García said. “The immigrant community and all of the different groups that are affected by this would just shut down and cease to cooperate with law enforcement and with government in general.”</p><p>The reimbursement offer came in a Feb. 13 letter from ICE Director John Morton to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. The letter also proposed that the county restore ICE’s ability to interview detainees inside the jail, provide ICE access to “any county records necessary” to identify deportable inmates, schedule inmate releases for business hours and provide 24 hours’ notice to ICE.</p><p>In September, an ordinance backed by Preckwinkle effectively ended the county’s compliance with ICE requests known as “detainers.” Those requests kept specified inmates in jail up to two business days longer than required by their criminal case’s judge. The ordinance barred the sheriff from honoring ICE detainers unless the feds agreed to pay for the extended confinement. County officials say that confinement costs about $142 a day per inmate.</p><p>Morton blasted the ordinance in a January letter, claiming it undermines public safety and hinders ICE’s ability to enforce immigration laws.</p><p>His offer to Cook County signals a possible change in ICE policy. The agency last year said it did not reimburse local jails for the cost of honoring its detainers.</p><p>Asked whether the offer could set a precedent for other jails, the agency sent a written statement that said Cook County reimbursements would be “unlikely” if ICE were “once again permitted to work inside” the jail and if the county provided the 24-hour notice. “ICE officers would immediately take custody of detainees on the same day of their scheduled release,” the statement said.</p><p>County Board Commissioner Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park), who voted against the ordinance, said Morton’s offer focuses the debate on public safety and constitutional questions. “If the argument against complying with ICE detainers was that it’s a financial burden on the county, that argument has been resolved,” Silvestri said.</p><p>Preckwinkle’s office said Wednesday she was studying Morton’s proposals and couldn’t respond to them yet.</p><p>Preckwinkle has defended the ordinance and pointed out that citizens, not just suspected immigration violators, can cause trouble after getting out of jail. In January, she ordered a six-month study aimed at improving the bond system so inmates who threaten public safety remain in jail.</p><p>Another county official predicted that complying with the detainers again would give inmates reason to sue for false imprisonment. “When they get compensated by a jury, are the feds going to come across and pay that bill too?” asked Patrick Reardon, first assistant Cook County public defender.</p><p>The county paid $72,000 to settle two 2008 lawsuits over detainers involving five inmates, according to Patrick Driscoll Jr., a deputy Cook County state’s attorney.</p><p>García and Reardon said allowing ICE officials to interview jail inmates would violate a 2007 County Board resolution aimed at removing the county from immigration enforcement.</p><p>Morton’s proposals include creating a “joint working group,” consisting of county and ICE employees, to resolve detainer issues and schedule implementation of his plan. Morton pointed out his plan would require amending or repealing the September ordinance.</p><p>“Morton has [offered] the olive branch and said that he would like to have a working group established so that they can discuss any remaining issues beyond the cost,” Commissioner Tim Schneider (R-Bartlett) said. “We need to find out what these last issues are in order for ICE to be able to do its job and function effectively in Cook County.”</p><p>Silvestri and Schneider have each proposed an amendment to scale back the ordinance so it allows detainer compliance for inmates deemed most dangerous. The amendments were the subject of a heated County Board hearing Feb. 9.</p><p>At the hearing, Sheriff Tom Dart said the jail had released 346 inmates named on ICE detainers since the ordinance passed. He said 11 of those individuals ended up arrested again. The charges varied.</p><p>Dart also voiced support for Schneider’s proposal, which would require compliance with detainers for inmates who appeared on a federal terrorist list or who faced any of several serious felony charges.</p><p>Dart’s office Wednesday did not answer whether it supported Morton’s proposals but said it favors “anything that helps bring sanity to the current situation.”</p></p> Thu, 01 Mar 2012 11:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ice-offer-%E2%80%98detainer%E2%80%99-costs-draws-mixed-reaction-96861 Commissioners take aim at immigration ordinance http://www.wbez.org/story/commissioners-take-aim-county-immigration-law-95607 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-18/Schneider.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-18/Schneider.JPG" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 264px; height: 276px;" title="Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, authored one of the proposals. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">A debate about a Cook County ordinance that frees some inmates wanted by immigration authorities could get hotter. At its meeting Wednesday, the County Board agreed to consider two proposed amendments that would scale back the ordinance. Commissioners with opposing views of the measure also vowed to press the county’s top law-enforcement officials to testify about it at an unscheduled hearing.</p><p>The ordinance effectively bars compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, which are requests that the county’s jail hold specified inmates up to two business days after they post bond or complete their criminal cases.</p><p>One of the proposed amendments, introduced Wednesday by Timothy Schneider (R-Bartlett), seems to require compliance with the detainers for inmates listed on the federal Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment and for inmates charged with — though not necessarily convicted of — various felonies. Those felonies include certain drug offenses, crimes resulting in great bodily harm, and “forcible felonies,” which Illinois defines as involving the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.</p><p>“I know that my amendment will not pass,” Schneider told commissioners during their meeting. “But maybe with some input from some of the stakeholders, something will come out of this and we will pass a common-sense measure that creates greater justice for victims of crimes and also to improve public safety for the residents of Cook County.”</p><p>The other proposed amendment, filed by Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park) and John Daley (D-Chicago), would give the sheriff leeway to honor the detainers.</p><p>“The sheriff should have greater discretion on holding people that pose a threat to society,” Silvestri said before the meeting. “The sheriff, as the chief law enforcement officer of the county, should develop a procedure for determining which individuals to keep and which to release.”</p><p>That idea is not going over well with the ordinance’s author, Jesús García (D-Chicago). “It would bring back a flawed program that has not succeeded in apprehending dangerous criminals, and has instead resulted in the detention and sometimes deportation of people with minor infractions, victims of crime, and even U.S. citizens,” a statement from García’s office said. “It would give the sheriff unbridled discretion to comply with ICE detainers.”</p><p>Commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to send both proposals to the board’s Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, chaired by Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who supports the ordinance.</p><p>Sheriff Tom Dart’s office did not return a call about the proposals, but he has quietly urged commissioners to require compliance with ICE detainers for inmates who meet any of several criteria. Dart listed some of the criteria in a December letter to Silvestri: “[It] is my hope that you agree that those charged with a ‘forcible felony,’ those who have a history of convictions and those on a Homeland Security Terrorist Watch List should be held on an ICE detainer rather than released immediately.”</p><p>State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office did not return a call about the proposals.</p><p>The ordinance, approved in a 10-5 vote last September, has received increasing public attention in recent weeks as news outlets have focused on a convicted felon who was charged and jailed in a fatal Logan Square hit-and-run incident last year and named on an ICE detainer. After the ordinance passed, officials say, the inmate posted bond, walked free and went missing.</p><p>A letter this month from ICE Director John Morton to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cites that case. “This ordinance undermines public safety in Cook County and hinders ICE’s ability to enforce the nation’s immigration laws,” the letter says.</p><p>Last week Preckwinkle said the hit-and-run suspect’s release “outraged” her, but she has stuck behind the ordinance. Instead of reconsidering it, she proposed a study of the county’s bail bond system for all criminal cases — no matter whether the inmate’s name appears on an ICE detainer. On Wednesday, the board approved the proposal, under which the county’s Judicial Advisory Council will undertake the study. That five-member panel, chaired by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, would recommend ways to improve pretrial services so judges can make better-informed decisions on bond amounts, according to the proposal.</p><p>ICE took custody of 1,665 Cook County inmates in 2010 and 721 in 2011, according to Dart’s office. Morton’s letter says ICE has lodged detainers against another 268 county inmates since the ordinance’s approval but the sheriff’s office has disregarded them.</p><p>The ordinance prohibits the jail from honoring the detainers unless the federal government agrees in advance to pay for the extended confinement — something ICE says it doesn’t do. García and others who back the ordinance say the detainers violated inmates’ due-process rights and eroded community trust in local police. A federal court ruling in Indiana last summer called compliance with the detainers “voluntary.”</p><p>The ordinance has reverberated beyond Cook County. In October, California’s Santa Clara County adopted a similar measure.</p></p> Wed, 18 Jan 2012 13:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/commissioners-take-aim-county-immigration-law-95607 County commissioner pulls bill to free inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-27/Garcia.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Legislation that would have required Cook County to free some jail inmates wanted by immigration authorities is dead for now.<br> <br> Commissioner Jesús García, D-Chicago, withdrew his bill at Wednesday’s County Board meeting. “We want to rethink it,” he said afterwards.<br> <br> The measure would have made the county the nation’s largest jurisdiction to end blanket compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Those are requests by the federal agency for local jails to keep some inmates 48 hours beyond what their criminal cases require.<br> <br> García’s bill would have ended the county’s compliance unless the inmate had been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors and unless the county got reimbursed.<br> <br> Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she would back releasing some inmates wanted by ICE but wants to hear from State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “We hope to have a written opinion from the state’s attorney that will allow us to proceed,” she said after the board meeting.<br> <br> A letter from Alvarez to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office back in 2009 said the jail “must comply with any ICE detainers.”<br> <br> But ICE officials in recent months have said there is no legal requirement for jails to comply. Dart told WBEZ this month he planned to ask Alvarez for an updated opinion.<br> <br> Alvarez’s office hasn’t answered WBEZ’s questions about whether she will revisit that opinion.</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 Bill would free Cook County inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/cook-County-Jail-2_Flickr_Zol87.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Cook County commissioner is quietly proposing an ordinance that would require the county’s massive jail to release some inmates wanted by immigration authorities.</p><p>Sponsored by Jesús García, D-Chicago, the measure would prohibit the jail from holding inmates based on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement request unless they have been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors, and unless the county gets reimbursed.</p><p>The legislation’s preamble says complying with the ICE requests, known as detainers, “places a great strain on our communities by eroding the public trust that local law enforcement depends on to secure the accurate reporting of criminal activity and to prevent and solve crimes.”</p><p>The jail now holds detainees requested by ICE for up to 48 hours after their criminal cases would allow them to walk free. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office says the jail turns over about a half dozen inmates to the federal agency each business day.</p><p>Dart this month <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233">told WBEZ his staff was exploring legal options</a> for releasing some of these inmates. The sheriff said his review began after he noticed that San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey had ordered his department to quit honoring certain ICE detainers beginning June 1.</p><p>If Dart’s office follows Hennessey’s path or if García’s legislation wins approval, Cook County could become the nation’s largest local jurisdiction to halt blanket compliance with ICE holds.</p><p>“Cook County would be a counter pole to Arizona’s Maricopa County,” says Chris Newman, general counsel of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a Los Angeles-based group that opposes involving local authorities in immigration enforcement.</p><p>García’s office didn’t return WBEZ calls or messages about his legislation. The offices of Sheriff Dart and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said they had seen the bill but declined to say whether they supported it.</p><p>A spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said late Tuesday her office had not been consulted about García’s proposal. A 2009 letter from Alvarez to Dart’s office said federal law required the sheriff to comply with “any ICE detainers.”</p><p>In recent months, however, immigration authorities have acknowledged that local jails do not have to comply with the detainers.</p><p>ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa, asked for comment about García’s legislation, sent a statement calling the detainers “critical” for deporting “criminal aliens and others who have no legal right to remain in the United States.”</p><p>“Individuals arrested for misdemeanors may ultimately be identified as recidivist offenders with multiple prior arrests, in addition to being in violation of U.S. immigration law,” the ICE statement said. “These individuals may have been deported before or have outstanding orders of removal.” Jurisdictions that ignore immigration detainers would be responsible for “possible public safety risks,” the statement added.</p><p>García’s proposal is on the county board’s agenda for Wednesday morning. Possible steps by commissioners include referring the measure to committee or approving it immediately.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634