Arresting Tales

Violent crime in Chicago: how bad will it get?

Recently I wrote about some Chicago-area judges who appear to be excessively lenient toward traffic violators who appear before them.  I ended the post by saying I'd like to see the Tribune conduct a similar study of criminal court. A commenter had this to say:

"I'd like to see the Tribune turn its attention to the criminal courts, where the same thing happens, only with felonies instead of traffic violations."

Your comment is right on point! How many serious felons walk away with a slap on the wrist before their victims even recover? What an insult to the efforts of law enforcement to bring them to justice.

Last year I got tired of constantly harping on the Illinois Department of Corrections' early release programs, and on the inability of the Cook County courts to effectively sentence repeat offenders.  Well, it's been a while now so I'm going to re-visit the subject.  This week there were a couple of items in the news that illustrate my point. 


19 year old Scott Evangelista was arrested and charged with home invasion and criminal sexual assault, after an incident in which he allegedly broke into a home in Arlington Heights and sexually assaulted "an underage girl".  Evangelista had been arrested by the Palatine Police Department and charged with home invasion in another case only 6 weeks earlier, but had managed to post bond.

Banks mugshot.jpg

On Tuesday night a robbery and a ten mile chase in which the victims tried to follow their robbers ended in a fatal crash.  One of the robbery suspects was killed, and the other two suspects in the car were critically injured.  The first article on the Chicago Breaking News website identified the dead man as "a parolee with a long criminal history".

Now comes news that not only was 25 year old Jeffrey Banks on parole for aggravated robbery, but that 2007 case also involved a robbery at a gas station just 4 blocks away from Tuesday's crime.  It ended in a chase on Lake Shore Drive, with the victims following Banks until he crashed his carSame suspect, same crime, same chase.

If you visit the IDOC website and look up Banks (inmate # R73064) you'll see he was arrested in July 2007.  He spent a year in Cook County Jail awaiting trial.  My bet is that he pleaded guilty and got a deal--the Tribune story says he robbed his victims at gunpoint, but the IDOC lists him as being on parole for aggravated robbery, not armed robbery.  He entered the IDOC in August 2008, and was back on the street less than 4 months later.  I'd like to see how many times he was arrested between December 2008 and last Tuesday, without his parole being violated.

 I understand that we're well past the point of keeping habitual thieves and other "non-violent" offenders off the street.  Still, you'd think that our criminal justice system could at least make an effort to keep violent felons locked up for the length of their sentences.  Remember, when it comes to violent offenders, prison is not about rehabilitation or punishment--it's simply about damage control, keeping the violent off the streets for as long as possible so at least they can't harm anyone else.  It would also be nice if judges, when setting bond, would make more of an effort to keep those accused of violent crimes under tighter supervision until their cases are disposed of.

If you want another example of what happens when we fail to separate the predators and parasites from society, or at least control them, check out this segment that aired on ABC 7 news Wednesday night:

First, here's the only feel-good news you'll get from me today. The story mentions that so far this year we've had one murder per day.  Sound bad to you?  It shouldn't--it should be cause for celebration--if we could hold the murder rate to one a day, we'd end up with 365 murders for the year.  That would be a huge improvement over last year's 453 killings--Chicago has not seen fewer than 400 murders since 1965, when there were 395 murders recorded. 

Here's why I have that video up.  At 2:58 you see a group of gang members openly taunting a shooting victim and Chicago cops, including a sergeant standing guard with a patrol rifle

Lately we've heard people calling for the National Guard to be deployed to the streets of Chicago.  I'd like to ask those people this question: what do you think the National Guard can do, exactly?  (For the sake of argument we'll put aside the constitutional issue of deploying troops on U.S. soil to do law enforcement, which in my opinion is a wildly bad idea.) 

Clearly the thugs shown in this video are not deterred or frightened by men armed with military style weapons--what makes you think they'd be any more deterred by soldiers manning checkpoints?  Pointing a gun at a thug who knows you have no legal justification to shoot him does nothing.  Do you want soldiers going through troubled neighborhoods house-to-house, searching for wanted criminals and illegal guns like portions of the south and west sides were Fallujah?  I didn't think so.

Meanwhile the Chicago Police Department, increasingly stressed and stretched, scrambles from one crisis to the next.  As resources are pulled from around the city, gang members in previously "quiet" districts become increasingly bold--witness some of the incidents in Uptown, or two recent shootings in the 2300 and 2900 blocks of Armitage Avenue.  The suburbs are not immune to the violence, either, as witnessed by last weekend's fatal shooting at a late-night birthday party in Zion.

Chicago is approaching the point at which a disastrous collection of social problems, failed policies, budget shortfalls and manpower issues are about to collide.  It remains to be seen whether the citizens of Chicago and their political leadership have the will or wisdom to do anything about it.



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BobZuley said:

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I think this column perfectly identifies the problematic issue of the Felony Review system in use in counties in the greater Chicago metropolitan area and in the East St. Louis area -- where residents are routinely denied the protections as provided by statute throughout Illinois as enacted by the General Assembly.
The Felony Review system provides a two-tier justice system in the state where felony enforcement is routinely downgraded and felony enhancement is subjectively applied.
For instance, a battery committed on a public way or burglary to motor vehicle (both felony by statute) are routinely downgraded to simple battery and trespass (or theft or criminal damage to) from m/v respectively. These downgrades are applied across the spectrum of felony cases. Equivalent cases in the remainder of Illinois face felony charges as legislators provided for.
Either the law should be openly amended to identify the enforcement discrepancy or the laws should be applied as provided thus insuring all state residents are accorded equivalent legal protections.
Equitable enforcement would necessitate increased court and corrections bills.
The flipside is that downstate offenders charged with minor felony violations are being detained and/or incarcerated with truly badass metropolitan-area hardcore criminals.
Either change the laws or enforce them equitably throughout Illinois.

Moshucat said:

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As usual I can't post comments. This site really sucks sometimes.

Joe the Cop said:


Mosh, if you want you can email your comment to askacopanythingATgmailDOTcom and I'll post it here for you.

Wendy C said:


Excellent post, Joe! When will Chicago's mayor quit bleating about the Supreme Ct possibly overturning the gun ban against lawful citizens, and address the rampant violence of the unlawful gangs, which have no problems procuring weapons?

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