WBEZ | crime http://www.wbez.org/tags/crime Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois counting on Cook County program to fix juvenile parole http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-counting-cook-county-program-fix-juvenile-parole-110308 <p><p>Almost nine out of every 10 kids who spend time in Illinois youth prisons end up going back to prison within three years of their release.</p><p>That high number - 86 percent, according to a report the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice prepared for the federal government last year - costs the state millions of dollars every year. And it&rsquo;s a factor in the violence perpetrated and suffered by young people in Chicago every summer.</p><p>Everybody involved agrees that a key solution is getting these kids a special kind of help so they can stay out of prison. Something more than parole like adults get.</p><p>The state of Illinois is counting on a small pilot program in Cook County to lead the way in fixing juvenile parole.</p><p>The program is called Aftercare. The name gives an idea of all that&rsquo;s intended: counseling, help with school and getting off drugs.</p><p>Officials are rushing to expand the Aftercare pilot statewide. But after three years running, there&rsquo;s no evidence the Cook County pilot is working.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="200" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/sMEkZ/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="610"></iframe></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/aftercare.png" style="height: 484px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="This map shows the 10 counties across Illinois with the highest number of juvenile parolees who are sent back to prison. " /></div><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;He&#39;s a pretty good kid he just needs some support&#39;</span></p><p>Adam is a 16-year-old kid who lives with his mom and four younger siblings in K-Town, a rough section of Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>Last March he was sent to the youth prison in St. Charles, Illinois on a gun charge. He got out in November, then was sent back briefly for a parole violation. When I first met him in March of this year he had been out for two months, was going to school and passing his drug tests.</p><p>He and his mom, Debra Wright, say for Adam that is a very big deal. And Adam thinks he can keep it up.</p><p>Adam is one of the kids on Aftercare, and that means instead of a parole officer he gets an aftercare specialist.</p><p>Like a regular parole officer,&nbsp; the specialist&rsquo;s job is to make sure Adam is doing what he&rsquo;s supposed to do, and staying out of trouble. But the specialist is also responsible for helping him do that: finding drug counseling to keep him from smoking weed; helping him get to school and constantly checking up on him&mdash;at least once a week.</p><p>Adam says he feels like he has two moms, his aftercare specialist and his parent.</p><p>Debra Wright is glad there is someone else around to keep Adam in line.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s a good role model and she&rsquo;s not trying to be hard on him and send him back. Because you get a lot of - excuse my french - dickheads as parole officers,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Adam is a good example of the challenging kids that the Aftercare program is trying to reach.</p><p>He has a long history of trouble with the law. Adam says he got sent to solitary confinement 15 times as punishment in the nine months he was inside. And he once spent four days in solitary for punching a guard in the face.</p><p>Besides his Aftercare specialist, Adam also gets support from Edwin Day, a youth and family advocate for the non-profit Youth Outreach Services. Day and a handful of others work with about 30 Aftercare kids who live on the West Side of Chicago.</p><p>Adam&rsquo;s Aftercare specialist is supposed to identify the kinds of help he needs, and then Day uses his community connections to help get it for Adam.</p><p>Day says Adam can be a handful at times, &ldquo;but he&rsquo;s a pretty good kid &hellip; he just needs some support.&rdquo;</p><p>And Day is a crucial part of that support. While the Aftercare specialists have more than 40 kids on their caseloads - almost twice the number they&rsquo;re supposed to have - advocates like Day have about seven.</p><p>The Youth Outreach program isn&rsquo;t expanding along with Aftercare, so most of the state workers on the front lines will be trying to reach kids with troubled pasts without any such support.</p><p>Experts say the result so far has been a program with good intentions but poor results.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;Our young people are in a state of emergency right now&#39;</span></p><p>In April, dozens of people on the West Side of Chicago gathered for a grim vigil.</p><p>They were marking the anniversary of a teenager&rsquo;s death, killed a few years before.</p><p>There are a million reasons why fixing the support system for kids getting out of prison is important: bringing down the number of kids who get sent back would mean big savings, for one thing,&nbsp; and the state is betting millions on this restructuring.</p><p>But the major reason is scenes like this prayer vigil. The kids who cycle through Illinois youth prisons are picked up out of violent neighborhoods, locked up for a time and then sent home to those same chaotic places. And when they get back they are more likely to commit another crime.</p><p>&ldquo;The youth that we get &hellip; they&rsquo;re involved with the violence. Either they&rsquo;ve been shot or their friends have been shot,&rdquo; Day said.</p><p>I really wanted to go out with the Aftercare specialists who are on the front lines of this new program. I spent months trying to arrange it, but the Department of Juvenile Justice refused to let me see them at work.</p><p>So I ended up riding along with Day as he did the rounds in Austin and Lawndale one afternoon in May instead.</p><p>&ldquo;Our young people are in a state of emergency right now, and ... we&rsquo;re trying to advocate against the violence,&rdquo; Day said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to remember that Day and his organization represent Aftercare at its absolute best. Instead of one person helping and checking up on them, these kids have two. And thanks to the organization he works for, Day has immediate access to mentoring, counseling and drug treatment.</p><p>Even still, what I saw when I went out with Day was a Sisyphean task. None of the kids who we went to check on were where they were supposed to be - each technically in violation of parole.</p><p>At one point, Day saw one of his Aftercare kids on the street, skipping school. Day flagged him down and gave him a ride to class, but when we got there the kid didn&rsquo;t want to get out. He said at one in the afternoon, it was too late to be worth going to school.</p><p>Day was unfazed.</p><p>At the very least, he said, the time he spent driving the kid to and from school was one hour where the young man couldn&rsquo;t be the victim of a crime or be arrested. And he counts every minute like that as a step to a potential breakthrough. Day wants the kids on Aftercare to know that he cares about them and isn&rsquo;t going anywhere.</p><p>During the drive to school, the truant he picked up said he didn&rsquo;t want to go to school because he is too far behind. As a 17-year-old reading at a third-grade level, he says he thinks it will be too much work to catch up.</p><p>It is this kind of hopelessness that Aftercare specialists will have to battle in order to be successful, and that is a hard, long fight. But experts say there are ways the Department of Juvenile Justice could be smarter in its strategy to make it easier.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;A plane that we&#39;re building as we fly it&#39;</span></p><p>Elizabeth Clarke is the head of the Juvenile Justice Initiative.</p><p>She has been working on improving Illinois juvenile justice since before the Department of Juvenile Justice even existed.</p><p>In fact, she helped create it back in 2006.</p><p>Clarke says fixing parole has been a key goal of the agency since it began eight years ago. And she&rsquo;s frustrated they still haven&rsquo;t gotten it right.</p><p>The Cook County pilot program started in the spring of 2011, but the department hasn&rsquo;t done a single study of its effectiveness&mdash;or at least not one that it&rsquo;s willing to share with the public.</p><p>What numbers are available do not paint a positive picture.</p><p>A key goal of Aftercare is to reduce the number of youth sent back to prison because of a parole violation. But the number of Cook County youth sent back actually went up in the first year of the program.</p><p>&ldquo;Any measure of success depends first and foremost on decreasing the rate of return. If we still have a 53 percent return, then whatever that Cook pilot is doing is not having a positive impact,&rdquo; Clarke said.</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/djjadmissiongraphswithsfy2012-2.png" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Source: David E. Olson, Loyola University" /></div><p>DJJ&rsquo;s new director Candice Jones says she respects Clarke, but she doesn&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s fair to judge the Cook County pilot program based on a statewide figure.</p><p>Jones took over DJJ at the end of January, and she says she wants her regime to be more open and transparent.</p><p>And she says there aren&rsquo;t any Aftercare-specific numbers to show whether it&rsquo;s working.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Clarke and other experts I talked to complained about the department&rsquo;s lack of transparency. But Jones protests that she isn&rsquo;t hiding information, there just isn&rsquo;t any data to share.</p><p>&ldquo;We know based on what other people are doing that these are the right models,&rdquo; Jones said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s always best to be able to wait until you have the best, clearest data to make decisions but we don&rsquo;t always have that luxury. You have to make some real-time decisions about a plane that we&rsquo;re building as we fly it.&quot;</p><p>The Aftercare model is the darling of juvenile justice advocates throughout the country and it has been around for a long time.</p><p>Jones, and just about everyone else I talked to, pointed to Pennsylvania&rsquo;s Aftercare program as a model to emulate.</p><p>Kids in Pennsylvania go back to prison at a rate of about 22 percent. In Illinois it&rsquo;s 53 percent if you count the kids who go back to youth prisons. The number jumps to 86 percent if you include those who end up in adult prisons too.</p><p>Though Pennsylvania is the Aftercare model, its program is fundamentally different from the one Illinois is implementing.</p><p>For the most part Pennsylvania eschews youth prison altogether. Their Aftercare treatment starts as soon as a kid is adjudicated &nbsp;and gets sent off to group homes with targeted treatment. They say those placement facilities are the core of Aftercare.</p><p>Illinois doesn&rsquo;t have anything like that.</p><p>John Maki, the director of prison watchdog John Howard Association, says he agrees with the concept of Aftercare, but that so far, Illinois is doing it wrong.</p><p>&ldquo;At a certain level words don&rsquo;t matter, it&rsquo;s about what is a system set up to do?&rdquo; Maki said. &ldquo;And this is a system that by-and-large teaches kids to live in prison and teaches kids how to re-offend.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;It&#39;s all stick, there&#39;s no carrot&#39;</span></p><p>The only evaluation of the Cook County pilot that has ever been done was by researchers at the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Chapin Hall&mdash;and that was just how it works, not if it does.</p><p>And the study exposes serious flaws.</p><p>It&rsquo;s no surprise that some of the biggest needs of kids on a slippery slope back to prison are substance abuse treatment, education and mentoring. But researchers note that in most of the cases they looked at, Aftercare specialists failed to connect kids to these services.&nbsp;</p><p>And many of the recorded care plans look an awful lot like adult parole:&nbsp; Lots of drug testing and supervision. Much less mentoring or help with school.</p><p>&ldquo;Aftercare is, despite the rhetoric of it being about providing services, it&rsquo;s all stick, there&rsquo;s no carrot,&rdquo; Maki said.</p><p>However, Maki is heartened by the moves Jones has made so far on Aftercare.</p><p>And Jones says she&rsquo;s making those changes because she&rsquo;s knows the stakes.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got a lot of work to do and we have a tiny little team of people doing it and we have to do it right,&quot; Jones said. &quot;Any fumbles, any missteps can undercut the foundation of what really is the right thing to do.&rdquo;</p><p>The stakes are even clearer about 10 miles west of Jones&rsquo;s downtown Chicago office.</p><p>The last stop on Edwin Day&rsquo;s rounds is the home of Adam, the 16 year old from K-Town. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s been about six weeks since I sat down with Adam and his mom, and Day says since then, things have taken a bad turn.</p><p>Adam has stopped going to school, he&rsquo;s been smoking weed and his mom says he&rsquo;s back out on the street selling drugs.</p><p>When we get to Adam&rsquo;s house, he&rsquo;s not in. Day tries his cell phone and Adam picks up, but when he realizes who it is he mumbles something and hangs up. When Day calls again it goes straight to voicemail.</p><p>Again Day takes a positive view: he&rsquo;s glad to know Adam is still able to pick up his phone, it means he hasn&rsquo;t been arrested.</p><p>Even though he knows Adam is probably out committing crimes, as long as he is still out of prison, there is still time for Day to reach him.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-counting-cook-county-program-fix-juvenile-parole-110308 Compare: Illinois governor candidates' views on concealed carry http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/compare-illinois-governor-candidates-views-concealed-carry-109845 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: This episode of the Curious City podcast includes a story about what the candidates for Illinois governor think about the state&rsquo;s new concealed-carry law. It starts 6 minutes, 30 seconds into the program. (Subscribe via <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/curious-city/id568409161">iTunes </a>or <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CuriousCityPodcast">Feedburner</a>!) This topic was also <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/curious-city-gay-marriage-and" target="_blank">discussed on WBEZ&#39;s The Afternoon Shift</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford of Elgin, Ill., had a perception about guns and violence that made her curious about the crop of primary candidates vying to be the state&rsquo;s governor. Her suspicion? The more that people carry guns in public, the higher the likelihood of gun violence.</p><p>With this highly-debated viewpoint in hand, she sent Curious City this question, just in time for the March 18 primary:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What would the candidates for Illinois governor do to prevent gun violence once thousands of residents are granted concealed carry permits?</em></p><p>There&rsquo;s a lot to unpack here, including some basic information about the state&rsquo;s concealed carry law.</p><p>First, Illinois was the last state in the country to adopt concealed carry and, even then, the lawmakers didn&rsquo;t act on their own; they were forced to pass a bill &mdash; any bill &mdash; by a federal judge who had ruled it&rsquo;s unconstitutional to not allow people to carry concealed guns in public. The legislature approved such a bill in May 2013.</p><p>The timing&rsquo;s not lost on Cheryl, who tells us she once appreciated that Illinois had not allowed concealed carry, and she feels the policy was foisted on the state.</p><p>But now, she said, &ldquo;The way our elected officials respond is going to be crucial.&rdquo;</p><p>Cheryl&rsquo;s onto something here. The first few thousand applicants have just begun receiving their concealed carry permits from the Illinois State Police. That means that &mdash; between the primary and November&rsquo;s general election &mdash; state residents will have a better idea of what living in a state with concealed carry really feels like.</p><p>And there may be pressure, one way or another, to rework the policy.</p><p>So how would the candidates respond?</p><p>To the best of our ability, we let the<a href="#views"> candidates themselves speak to this</a>. But since several of them cite studies about the relationship between violence, crime and concealed carry policy, we also compared their statements to what&rsquo;s being said about concealed carry by academics. While answering Cheryl&#39;s question, we found the bottom line is that the lack of consensus among the candidates is pretty much reflected by a lack of consensus in the research.</p><p><strong>Good guy gun ownership, bad guy gun ownership</strong></p><p>So what effect do concealed carry laws have on violence? It&rsquo;s important to tease out because politicians often cite research to back their positions. And &mdash; as you&rsquo;ll read and hear below &mdash; the academic findings run the gamut..</p><p>(A clarification: Cheryl asked about positions related to concealed carry and violence. Researchers we reached out to look at violent crime, but other types of crime, as well.)</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tio%20H%20from%20campaign.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 190px; width: 285px; float: right;" title="Tio Hardiman is challenging Governor Quinn in the Democratic Primary. (Photo courtesy of the Tio Hardiman campaign)" /><a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493636.html" target="_blank">John Lott</a> has studied the effects of concealed carry laws on crime rates. He wrote a book called More Guns, Less Crime, which pretty much sums up where he stands.</p><p>&ldquo;The fact that a would-be victim might be able to defend themselves also deters crime,&rdquo; Lott said in a phone interview with WBEZ.</p><p>Lott&rsquo;s research of municipal crime data from across the country suggests crime drops after concealed carry laws take effect, and the more concealed carry permits that are issued, the more it drops.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, all sorts of claims about &lsquo;Bad things are gonna happen, you know, blood in the streets?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;A year from now, everybody&rsquo;s gonna say, &lsquo;What was this debate all about?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s particularly true for Illinois, Lott said, because strict requirements on obtaining a concealed carry permit may limit the number of people who get them.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s where things get a little complex, if not outright confusing.</p><p><a href="http://www.law.stanford.edu/profile/john-j-donohue-iii" target="_blank">John Donohue</a>, a professor at Stanford, has also studied the effects of concealed carry laws on crime rates, and his research suggests the exact opposite of what Lott found.</p><p>&ldquo;If I had to bet my house, I&rsquo;d say more likely that they have adverse impacts than that they have a beneficial impact,&rdquo; Donohue said, adding the caveat that the current available research models aren&rsquo;t perfect.</p><p>Still, Donohue said he&rsquo;s doing preliminary work with a new research model that suggests right-to-carry laws lead to more aggravated assaults.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4655925819_1f5bc72c99_o.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 183px; width: 275px;" title="Incumbent Pat Quinn advocates for firmer restrictions on concealed carry. (Flickr/Chris Eaves)" /></p><p>And then there&rsquo;s a third position held by other researchers about what happens to crime rates in right-to-carry states, as expressed by Prof. <a href="http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/p/faculty-gary-kleck.php" target="_blank">Gary Kleck</a> from Florida State University.</p><p>&ldquo;Other things being equal, nothing happens,&rdquo; Kleck said. &ldquo;Good guy gun ownership has crime-reducing effects and bad guy gun ownership has crime-elevating effects.&rdquo;</p><p>The reason there are so many contradictory opinions is that none of these folks can agree on what data they should be looking at or how they should be looking at it. Kleck said this gets into differences over the minutiae of crime research models.</p><p>&ldquo;There may be only one right way to do it, but there&rsquo;s like a million different wrong ways to do it. And yeah, if you&rsquo;re a layperson, you&rsquo;re just &lsquo;Joe Regular Guy&rsquo; trying to figure it out, you&rsquo;re doomed,&rdquo; Kleck said. &ldquo;I mean, there&rsquo;s nothing I can say to help you out because you&rsquo;re not gonna be qualified to see those ... flaws in the research.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP463233027879.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 303px; width: 450px;" title="The GOP candidates, from left to right, state Sen. Bill Brady, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, and businessman Bruce Rauner prepare to debate. (AP Photo/Chicago Tribune, Terrence Antonio James, Pool)" /></div><p><strong>Where the candidates stand</strong></p><p>All this is to show that concealed carry is a complicated, controversial issue. But we wanted to illustrate that even among the experts &mdash; the folks whom politicians are citing &mdash; there&rsquo;s not a consensus.</p><p>We posed Cheryl&rsquo;s question to all six major party campaigns, but we had to track down responses in very different ways. In three cases we were able to ask candidates directly, either at press conferences or via phone calls. For the others, we had to search for answers through other avenues. In some cases, we extrapolated a position based on the candidate&rsquo;s previous statements on concealed carry, crime, violence and guns.</p><p><strong>Democrat Tio Hardiman</strong></p><p>He is the only candidate who acknowledged the conflicting research that we encountered.</p><p>&ldquo;I cannot penalize, not with a good conscience, penalize legal gun owners for the violence problem in Illinois. There&rsquo;s no data to back it up. So if people would like to exercise their right to the Second Amendment, they should be able to do so.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican State Sen. Bill Brady</strong></p><p>&ldquo;We also have to understand that this is about public safety and driving down crime. We know that in every state where concealed carry took place, crime went down. And we need to give our citizens the opportunity to protect themselves and watch crime go down.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican State Sen. Kirk Dillard</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Illinois is the last state in America to allow people to protect themselves. It took the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to force the state of Illinois to allow people to have the same right they had in all 49 other states, let alone keep the criminals guessing. I take a wait and see approach. I think we ought to wait and see how this law unfurls for a while before we make any changes, pro or con, to it.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican businessman Bruce Rauner</strong></p><p>We didn&rsquo;t get a direct response from Bruce Rauner, but he addressed themes in Cheryl&rsquo;s question during a debate.</p><p>&ldquo;I think concealed carry was long overdue. Gun ownership is an important constitutional right. We should end the approach that many politicians take in Illinois and that is to blame our crime problems on gun ownership. Our crime problems are one of, crimes about inadequate police staffing, high unemployment and horrible schools, not about gun ownership.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Republican State Treasurer Dan Rutherford</strong></p><p>In previous statements, including this one from a debate in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates, he&rsquo;s said he wants the Illinois State Police to oversee gun licenses efficiently.</p><p>&ldquo;If I was king of the forest or if I was the governor and I was able to help influence it, it would be a different bill than what it was. I think what we need to be very, very sensitive to, though, is the evolution of this. The evolution could be, as you suggested, perhaps making it better and more enhancing. But as well an evolution could also put us backwards if we don&rsquo;t have the right people in the governor&rsquo;s office, we don&rsquo;t have the right people in the General Assembly. One of the performance reviews that I will be doing is with regards to State Police. Why does it take so long to process a FOID card? Why does it take so long to process the application for your concealed carry? Those are unacceptable.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn</strong></p><p>The governor didn&rsquo;t seem to like any part of the process of negotiating the concealed carry bill last year, and he <a href="http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&amp;RecNum=11323" target="_blank">vetoed parts of it </a>in the name of safety. Those changes were overridden by the General Assembly.</p><p>&ldquo;This is about public safety. I think that public safety should never be compromised, never be negotiated away. The governor, that&rsquo;s me, my job is to protect public safety and I think that&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;m doing here with these common sense changes. I think we need to repeat that over and over again. The things I&rsquo;ve outlined today that have changed this bill are all about common sense and public safety and I think the General Assembly and the members should put aside politics and focus on people and their safety.&rdquo;<a name="views"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/26501739&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a> is a political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p><p><em>This report received additional support through <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center">Front &amp; Center</a>, an occasional WBEZ series funded by The Joyce Foundation.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 19:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/compare-illinois-governor-candidates-views-concealed-carry-109845 Murdered Chicago teen died with bus ticket out of town http://www.wbez.org/news/murdered-chicago-teen-died-bus-ticket-out-town-108845 <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/Rodney%20%287%20of%2016%29.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Rodney Stewart’s grandma, Sheila Green, looks down at Stewart’s grave at Mount Hope Cemetery. Stewart was 17 when he was murdered last year. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Nahli Allison)" /></div><p>Last fall 17-year old Rodney Stewart knew he was in danger and that he needed to get out of Chicago.&nbsp; Stewart had a plan. He was going to move to Iowa, where he could live with two friends and where he had a lead on a job.&nbsp; He bought a ticket for a bus leaving Chicago on November 10, 2012.&nbsp; But in the early morning hours of November 8th, just two days before that bus would have left, Stewart was found face down in an alley in the 2600 block of West 83rd Street, shot in the back of the head. He died later that day.</p><p>Rodney Stewart&rsquo;s family and longtime friends say they never expected his life to end this way. They remember him as an easy-going, silly but responsible young man. Stewart was a good kid, who stayed out of trouble, says Sheila Green, his grandmother; he wasn&rsquo;t in jail like other relatives, she adds. Green says her grandson-- who came to live with her when he was 10-- actually liked to clean and go to bed early, and he had no problem taking care of his younger relatives or chipping in for groceries when needed.</p><p>But Green remembers a conversation she had with her grandson about a year before he was killed. Stewart warned her that he was in trouble. She didn&rsquo;t believe him. &ldquo;He told me he has &lsquo;enemies&rsquo; and that I wouldn&rsquo;t understand,&rdquo; Green recounts. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t take him serious because we&rsquo;re talking about Trell, who is silly, lanky, just silly. He was what the kids would call a nerd. I&rsquo;m like, &lsquo;Boy, who want you? Nobody thinking about you.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Downward Spiral</strong><br /><br />Stewart tried several times to get away from the dangers he feared would catch up with him.</p><p>In May of 2012, he decided to move out of Green&rsquo;s house to live with his mother. Green says the 16-year-old was seeking more freedom, and she didn&rsquo;t approve of the move. When Stewart&rsquo;s relationship with his mother grew strained, he moved in with his girlfriend, LaDorothy Morrison, and her family.&nbsp; When that family moved from their South Side Woodlawn neighborhood to the West Side in August of 2012, Stewart moved with them.</p><p>In late October 2012, Green says Stewart&rsquo;s school, Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, contacted her because he had missed 42 days of school, almost the entire semester. Green says the school told her that his mother could not be reached.<br /><br />Green talked to her grandson. She says Stewart told her he couldn&rsquo;t go back to school and said he wanted to take classes online instead, something she reluctantly agreed to.</p><p>Despite the increasing instability, school absences and repeated moves, Stewart&rsquo;s girlfriend LaDorothy Morrison insists Stewart was trying to hang on and make something work.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;We used to always talk about our future, and he would always tell me there&rsquo;s nothing in Chicago,&rdquo; says Morrison. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re going to end up dead, or in jail, and he was so looking forward to moving.&rdquo;<br /><br />But when it comes to talking about who may have killed her boyfriend, Morrison shuts down, saying she doesn&rsquo;t feel &ldquo;comfortable.&rdquo;</p><p>That resistance piques the suspicion of Stewart&rsquo;s aunt Andrea Johnson. Johnson says she was close to her nephew.&nbsp; She blinks back tears at the mention of his name. She says Morrison is &ldquo;not cooperating&rdquo; with detectives and is therefore partly to blame for the fact that the case still hasn&rsquo;t been solved.<br /><br />&ldquo;The decision to bring charges in any case, murder or otherwise, is made by the State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office,&rdquo; says Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.</p><p>&ldquo;The key pieces of evidence typically required by prosecutors include credible witnesses who is [sic] willing to come forward or DNA, which you don&rsquo;t have with murder by gunfire,&rdquo; says Collins.</p><p>Stewart&rsquo;s grandmother Sheila Green says the identity of the shooter is not a secret, but that the family is&nbsp; still waiting for witnesses who will testify in court. &ldquo;We know, and the detectives know who did it,&rdquo; says Green, &ldquo;But there isn&rsquo;t enough evidence because no witness will step up.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Andrea Watson is a Columbia College graduate student. She reported and wrote this story as part of the &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagotalks.org/?s=forgotten+dead&amp;x=0&amp;y=0" target="_blank">Forgotten Dead&quot;</a> series, a Columbia College student project that looked into unsolved murders in Chicago last year.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/murdered-chicago-teen-died-bus-ticket-out-town-108845 Education groups help in fight against child abuse http://www.wbez.org/news/education-groups-help-fight-against-child-abuse-108829 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/abuseposter.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Some key education groups in Illinois are out to help stem child abuse.</p><p>The Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois PTA will participate in the state&rsquo;s &ldquo;You are not alone&rdquo; campaign.</p><p>&ldquo;We are all committed to working together to ensure safe, loving homes and brighter futures for children,&rdquo;&nbsp; Roger Eddy, director of IASB, in a press release. &ldquo;School board members across Illinois understand that children can&rsquo;t do their homework if they don&rsquo;t have a safe home to go to at night, or their home is in chaos because of abuse or domestic violence.&rdquo;</p><p>The campaign features posters and social media advertising urging kids to report their abuse.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services started sending out posters to schools last month.</p><p>It carries a simple message: &ldquo;You are not alone.&rdquo;</p><p>DCFS spokesman Dave Clarkin says in addition to getting more reports, the department wants to combat the feeling of isolation that comes when children are abused.</p><p>On the same day that the statewide groups pledged their support, DCFS added a crucial school district to its coalition: Chicago Public Schools and its roughly 400,000 students.</p><p>Clarkin says it&rsquo;s important for kids to report their own abuse, because too many Illinois adults are letting them down.</p><p>&ldquo;One in five kids in Illinois are abused or neglected before they turn 18, and unfortunately children tell an average of seven adults that they&rsquo;re being abused or neglected before an adult calls the hotline,&rdquo; Clarkin said. &ldquo;All nine million adults in Illinois have a shared responsibility to report abuse and neglect. Unfortunately not every adult lives up to that responsibility and when that&rsquo;s the case we want to make sure that children know that helps is available.&rdquo;</p><p>Clarkin says the department already gets more information from children who are siblings of kids being abused than they do from other adult relatives. He said sometimes children as young as 6 call the hotline to report the abuse of their brother or sister.</p><p>The posters - in both English and Spanish - are being sent out to more than 600 Illinois school districts. The department estimates the posters will reach about 1.5 million students.</p><p>&ldquo;If children haven&rsquo;t seen them already they should [soon]. But the folks at our hotline report that we&rsquo;re already seeing an increase in calls to the hotline, so it looks like the campaign is working.&rdquo;</p><p>The campaign urges children who are being abused to call the DCFS hotline at 1-800-252-2873.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 02 Oct 2013 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-groups-help-fight-against-child-abuse-108829 Lawmakers: Federal involvement needed to curb illegal gun trafficking http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-federal-involvement-needed-curb-illegal-gun-trafficking-108456 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gun Checks_130819_AYC.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Lawmakers said Illinois&rsquo;s new gun law needs federal involvement to truly stop or even curb illegal gun trafficking.</p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn this weekend signed a new law that requires gun owners to report within 72 hours any lost or stolen gun .</p><p>The law also requires background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales.</p><p>But State Senator Kwame Raoul said there&rsquo;s more to be done.</p><p>&ldquo;We can continue to do (more) at the state level, but the reality is a lot of the gun trafficking occurs across the state lines,&rdquo; Raoul said. &ldquo;Enacting law is only one measure that we can do to combat gun violence, but we also need the help from the federal level.&rdquo;</p><p>Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the new requirement gives police more control in keeping track of illegal firearms.</p><p>&ldquo;This lost or stolen requirement will help police identify suspicious patterns of behavior by persons who fail to file reports yet continually claim their guns were lost or stolen after they are recovered at a crime scene,&rdquo; she said in a press release.</p><p>Illinois is the 9th state to require the reporting of lost or stolen guns. Michigan and Ohio are the only two nearby states with the same requirement.</p><p>The reporting requirement takes effect immediately, and the new background check system will start in the beginning of next year.</p><p><em>Aimee Chen is a WBEZ business reporting intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/AimeeYuyiChen">@AimeeYuyiChen</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 16:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawmakers-federal-involvement-needed-curb-illegal-gun-trafficking-108456 Chicago updates assault weapons ban http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-updates-assault-weapons-ban-108086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/fio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago aldermen acknowledge that the tweaks made to the city&rsquo;s assault weapons ban today won&rsquo;t do much to prevent violence.</p><p dir="ltr">But, they said, it is the best they can do.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago City Council voted to add to the list of so-called assault weapons banned in the city, and--in a separate ordinance-- to increase fines against people caught with a gun near a school.</p><p dir="ltr">The state&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-legislature-passes-concealed-carry-bill-awaits-quinns-signature-107417">new concealed carry law</a> allowed cities until Friday to update or create bans on military-style rifles.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Now this isn&rsquo;t going to cure everything, but we have a window and it would be irresponsible and reckless not to take this window and make sure that our laws were toughened,&rdquo; Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr">Some critics were disappointed that the ordinance introduced by Emanuel didn&rsquo;t include stiffer punishments for owning the banned weapons.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The question is why wouldn&rsquo;t we [increase the penalties]?&rdquo; asked Ald. Carrie Austin (34th).</p><p dir="ltr">Austin, however, voted along with the rest of the city council to approve the amendment to the 1992 assault weapons ban.</p><p dir="ltr">Even without an increase in penalties, Austin said she still believes the changes will make a difference.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everyone says this is just something to just feel good, feel fuzzy. No. I don&rsquo;t do things that are just feel good, feel fuzzy. I want to do things that are going to have some teeth to it,&rdquo; Austin said.</p><p dir="ltr">Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) said the amendment is essentially toothless, saying the assault weapons ban needs harsher penalties, and the state&rsquo;s attorney needs to enforce the ban.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Otherwise, why did we have this meeting today?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Fioretti said Chicago&rsquo;s ban on assault weapons has had &ldquo;very limited effect&rdquo; since it was created.</p><p dir="ltr">In a committee meeting the day before, and again at the council meeting today, Fioretti asked city officials how many people had been shot with an assault weapon in the past two years in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">He said he still hasn&rsquo;t received an answer.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;From what I&rsquo;ve [heard] from people in the police department it is &hellip; one person,&rdquo; Fioretti said. But he said that number hasn&rsquo;t been confirmed by the department.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that about 4 percent of all guns recovered this year were so-called assault weapons.</p><p dir="ltr">Fioretti also seemed skeptical of another public safety ordinance, this one introduced by the mayor and who said it is meant to help improve safety for school children.</p><p dir="ltr">That ordinance, which also passed unanimously today, creates school safety zones within 1,000 feet of schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Under the new ordinance, anyone convicted of possessing a gun near schools, on buses or along designed Safe Passage routes could face up to a $5,000 fine and up to six months incarceration, with punishment increasing for repeat offenders.</p><p dir="ltr">Fioretti said he thinks the law will create more confusion than anything else.</p><p dir="ltr">But Fenger High School Principal Liz Dozier said the new law will help make students safer.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have to start doing things to make our communities a safer place for our kids to go to and from school,&rdquo; Dozier said. &ldquo;Our kids need to be focused more on their studies than &hellip; being concerned about their safety.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Dozier said the new laws &ldquo;won&rsquo;t fix everything,&rdquo; but they are a good step.</p><p dir="ltr">Pounding the podium as he addressed the city council, the mayor &nbsp;insisted on the importance of the school safety ordinance.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s votes are the right things to do,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;We stepped up for our children. The weak link to protect our streets are our gun laws.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel and several aldermen spent some time complaining about the state&rsquo;s new concealed carry law.</p><p dir="ltr">One after another, city council members stood to say they are doing all they can, but that the real power to improve gun laws lies with state and federal lawmakers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Down in Springfield we have a battle,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a></em></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-updates-assault-weapons-ban-108086 Unwelcome summer break for Chicago violence prevention program http://www.wbez.org/news/unwelcome-summer-break-chicago-violence-prevention-program-107959 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Ceasefire_sh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Every June, Ceasefire sites across Chicago get an email saying that their program will shut down starting July 1st, and until further notice.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because it&rsquo;s the beginning of the state&rsquo;s fiscal year, and there is a gap before when the state sends out money and the organization can process it.</p><p>Many social service programs face a similar funding gap.&nbsp; But Josh Gryniewicz of Ceasefire says that it&rsquo;s particularly challenging for Ceasefire. Summer months are violent and it&rsquo;s when the program&rsquo;s staff, who intervene conflicts, are most needed.</p><p>&ldquo;It just an unfortunate perfect storm,&rdquo; said Gryniewicz.</p><p>In the past, workers have been on hiatus anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.<br />But Gryniewicz expects this year to be the shortest gap yet. That&rsquo;s because all the ceasefire sites got their budgets in ahead of time and the program is getting help streamlining the budget process.</p><p>A handful of Ceasefire sites with additional funding are still in operation.The program is looking for individual donations to keep other programs open.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 05 Jul 2013 12:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/unwelcome-summer-break-chicago-violence-prevention-program-107959 City tackles crime with demolitions http://www.wbez.org/news/city-tackles-crime-demolitions-107840 <p><p>Carl Carpenter has lived most of his 41 years in Englewood, starting at a time when the area was full of houses. But things have changed.</p><p>&ldquo;Every other block, you&rsquo;ve got anywhere between 5 to 6 vacant lots,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Some of those vacancies were part of collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and Department of Buildings to demolish structurally unsound properties that also bred criminal activity. About 300 buildings were knocked down in the last year.<br /><br />Carpenter, who lives with relatives in the South Side neighborhood, doesn&rsquo;t think the plan is a real solution to curb crime.<br /><br />&ldquo;If that&rsquo;s the best you can do, stop playing,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That ain&rsquo;t fixing to do nothing. What&rsquo;s that going to stop?&rdquo;</p><p>Carpenter said the strategy of tearing down vacant homes makes it harder for low-income residents who may live in the foreclosed or abandoned properties.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s people who live there,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You gonna force them to be homeless and force them into crime?&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago Police Department said in the target area of the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th police districts, overall crime has dropped.</p><p>In the police district that covers Englewood, murders and overall crime are both down 19 percent from last year. Shootings are down 38 percent.</p><p>More than 100 properties in the area were demolished during this time.<br /><br />Leo Schmitz is the deputy chief of the 7th district. He said gang members use vacant buildings on strategic blocks to store either narcotics or weapons.</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/Screen%20Shot%202013-06-25%20at%203.43.30%20PM.png" style="float: right; height: 414px; width: 280px;" title="A neighbor of this Englewood apartment building who called himself &quot;Big Homie&quot; said he felt safer after the building was recently boarded up. (WBEZ/Tricia Bobeda)" />Schmitz said it&rsquo;s largely the community that brings problems to police attention. He said officials work with property owners first and only use demolition as a last resort.</div><p>&ldquo;Whether it&rsquo;s boarding it up, whether it&rsquo;s fixing it up and getting new tenants in, all of that is brought to the table before demolition is performed,&rdquo; he said.<br />&nbsp;<br />Asiaha Butler is the founder of Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) She said her organization works with the 7th district often.<br /><br />&ldquo;I know the CAPS officers,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re doing a lot of great work. I don&rsquo;t know how strategic the plans are overall [that I] can say is making a huge impact on the community.&rdquo;<br /><br />Butler is a property owner on a block with very few neighbors. She doesn&rsquo;t like to see demolitions.<br /><br />&ldquo;But at the same time you don&rsquo;t want to have havens where people can do criminal activity,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I definitely see a fast track of the demolishing of buildings. I don&rsquo;t necessarily see a fast track in curing the criminal activity that&rsquo;s happening there.&rdquo;</p><p>She said there needs to be more collaboration among residents, police and organizations for a plan to work.<br /><br />&ldquo;The city said they&rsquo;re gonna do this, but we on the block know that something else needs to happen,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Butler said part of that is getting people to invest in properties in the community. She&rsquo;s hopeful that the market <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-city-tackle-problems-around-vacant-homes-and-lots-107825" target="_blank">is slowly turning around</a>.<br /><br />In another part of Englewood, litter collects against some abandoned chairs in a large empty lot. A family that lives across the street is just arriving home.</p><p>A 19-year-old resident who didn&rsquo;t want to give his real name said to call him Big Homie. He says new streetlights and more secured buildings make his block feel safer.<br /><br />He remembers his uncle living in the house across the street before it was demolished. He points out a large boarded up apartment building on the block.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was a good place at one point, but the gangs took over,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s done now. They boarded everything up.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Susie An is WBEZ&rsquo;s business reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon" target="_blank">@soosieon.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 25 Jun 2013 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-tackles-crime-demolitions-107840 Narcotics task force takes aim at Mexico to Chicago drug trafficking http://www.wbez.org/news/narcotics-task-force-takes-aim-mexico-chicago-drug-trafficking-107796 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3567_Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Anita Alvarez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A team of federal agents and police officers arrested 21 men allegedly involved in drug dealing on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>Jack Riley, head of the Chicago office of the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration, said the arrests were the first major case for a new narcotics strike force.</p><p>Early on Thursday, the strike force executed search warrants on nine Chicago residences and two cars, arresting 21 alleged drug dealers.</p><p>Another two men who were also indicted are still at large.</p><p>The arrested men are due in court for hearings next week.</p><p>According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the men arrested were allegedly involved in selling cocaine and heroin in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.</p><p>The arrests were the result of a nine-month investigation that is still ongoing.</p><p>Along with the arrests, law enforcement officials seized about three pounds of heroin and nearly nine pounds of cocaine.</p><p>Special Agent Riley said the drugs would be worth millions of dollars on the street.</p><p>&ldquo;Another great day for the good guys here in Chicago,&rdquo; Riley said at a press conference announcing the drug bust.</p><p>He said the arrests were part of a continuing effort to cripple the supply of drugs from Mexico into Chicago.</p><p>Specifically, this operation was aimed at finding and bringing down what Riley called the &ldquo;choke point&rdquo; where the Sinaloa drug cartel and Chicago street dealers connect.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got to make the connections, even if it takes us back into Mexico and Central and South America. The idea is to eliminate the organizations,&rdquo; Riley said.</p><p>He added that when he and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy discussed the narcotic strike force last year they &ldquo;envisioned it doing exactly what it did today.&rdquo;</p><p>McCarthy said the new task force works because the Chicago Police Department and the DEA have different, but complementary aims.</p><p>For the police, the goal is to &ldquo;eliminate street corner markets&rdquo; and make Chicago safer, and for the DEA it is to find the larger drug suppliers.</p><p>With the task force, McCarthy said, the work his department does on the ground can help the federal agents in their pursuit of high-level drug traffickers. And the investigations done by the DEA can aid the Chicago police.</p><p>McCarthy said the drug bust will have a big impact on crime in Chicago</p><p>&ldquo;Much of the violence on the West Side of Chicago &hellip; a lot of it revolves around the narcotics trade,&rdquo; McCarthy said.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/narcotics-task-force-takes-aim-mexico-chicago-drug-trafficking-107796 ACLU finds racial disparities in Illinois pot arrests http://www.wbez.org/news/aclu-finds-racial-disparities-illinois-pot-arrests-107555 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3635_7811e70cf25bbc2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois say one way to address racial disparities in marijuana arrests is to stop making them.</p><p>A new report from the civil rights group calls for the legalization of marijuana. The study found that African Americans in Illinois are almost eight times more likely than whites to be arrested for pot possession.</p><p>Ed Yohnka, director of public policy for the ACLU of Illinois, says whites and blacks use pot at about the same rate, but enforcement focuses on African Americans.</p><p>&ldquo;We see this in the city of Chicago, we see it in other areas, that &hellip; where the enforcement is targeted is at people of color. And it results in this grossly disparate rate of arrest,&rdquo; Yohnka said.</p><p>In an emailed statement, a spokesman for the Chicago police Department said police officers enforce laws in the interest of public safety and without regard to race.</p><p>According to the ACLU report, Illinois has the fourth highest rate of race disparity in marijuana arrests in the country.</p><p>Yohnka says that disparity &ldquo;results in really tragic outcomes in &hellip; people&rsquo;s lives,&rdquo; because of court costs and the stigma of a criminal record.&nbsp; It cost the state about $221 million to enforce marijuana laws in 2010, according to the report.</p><p>&ldquo;This war on marijuana &hellip; is an abject failure,&rdquo; Yohnka said.</p><p>In its report the ACLU recommends that pot be legal for anyone over 21, and be licensed, taxed and regulated like any other product. The group also suggests that tax revenue from marijuana sales could be earmarked for substance-abuse prevention, among other things.Yohnka says the public wants marijuana to be legalized and that elected officials are lagging behind popular opinion.</p><p>Despite that, marijuana arrests are trending up, not down, in Illinois and throughout the country.</p><p>Illinois had 12,406 more pot arrests in 2010 than it did in 2001, according to the report.</p><p>The results of the study didn&#39;t come as a big shock to Juliana Stratton, but she says she was surprised to see that Cook County had the most marijuana possession arrests in the country.<br /><br />Stratton, who heads the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council, says the report confirms the importance of the work being done by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle to try and cut down on the number of marijuana arrests in the county.<br /><br />She says more money and energy should be diverted away from law enforcement and toward treatment and prevention. In the coming months, she says the county will be unveiling programs that will divert minor drug offenders away from jail and toward rehabilitation.<br /><br />As for Cook County&#39;s high number of pot arrests, Stratton says part of the reason could be the Chicago Police Department&#39;s focus on quality-of-life policing and the drying up of state funds for drug treatment.<br /><br />Stratton says CPD&#39;s policy of arresting minor offenders as part of the &quot;broken windows theory&quot; of policing, runs counter to the county president&#39;s aim of decreasing the population of the Cook County Jail.</p><p>Illinois state Sen. Mattie Hunter, who heads the Illinois Disproportionate Justice Impact Study Commission, also said &nbsp;she was not surprised by the ACLU&rsquo;s findings. She says the report echoes what she and her colleagues have found in years studying racial inequality throughout the state.</p><p>But Hunter says the problem won&rsquo;t go away until racism is eradicated from the justice system.</p><p>Hunter does not support the legalization of marijuana.</p><p>Cook County led the nation in marijuana possession arrests in 2010 with 33,000, or 91 per day, according to the ACLU report.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/aclu-finds-racial-disparities-illinois-pot-arrests-107555