Chicago's High Powered gun slinger arrestees: When should they return to our streets on bail?

Mayor Lori Lightfoot: Having an AK-47 is against the law. So, that in and of itself... is a problem.  Obviously, the judge should look at how strong the prosecution's case is ...the other surrounding circumstances...  but [that] raises serious questions as to whether... that person should be out on bond...

Berkowitz: Even with no priors?

Mayor Lightfoot: Even with no priors, yes. Of course.

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Mayor Lightfoot: Since when is it a problem to put out public information. The [CPD dashboard] site... has, as its first banner, an appropriate disclaimer that the defendants in these cases are entitled to a presumption of innocence. But ... the public has a right to know what's going on in our courts.

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Lori Lightfoot:  ... We should get rid of cash bond, I fully support that. It does not make sense for us to incarcerate people on the basis of their financial status to pay, but the question should be: are they a danger to the community or are they a flight risk. If they are a danger to the community, taking into consideration their past conduct-- and their criminal history obviously is relevant to that-- as well as the charged offense, they should not be out on any kind of bail.  That is pretty straightforward.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, just one follow-up, because that was a question Paris [Schutz, in his WTTW Chicago Tonight interview of Chief Judge Evans] didn't ask], and I just wondered if you did discuss that with the Judge, Chief Judge [of Circuit Court of Cook County, Tim Evans] which is, if they are arrested for having in their possession a military stye weapon, whether it's an AK-47 or AR-15, something of that type, I think you said, just last week, that that in and of itself is a reason for the person not to get any bail- just detained- because they were a danger to the community, just having that gun-

Mayor Lightfoot: I think that's not what I said.  I don't recall the specifics of the conversation but I don't believe that's what I said because it's not what I think. What I am saying is--when a judge is making a bail determination, he or she has to take into consideration the circumstances of the particular matter and when you have a- what we're seeing is- not some individual who has no criminal history and certainly not one of violence- who gets caught with mere possession- that's not we're  talking about. We're talking about people who have a long track record of violence in their past, who get caught with any kind of firearm, to me it doesn't have to be military grade, but that's an aggravating circumstance. When you have that kind of track record, in the context of the City of  Chicago, again with the kind of violence we are suffering and you then possess a firearm that you are not legally authorized to possess, that's a substantial problem and absolutely should be a determinant as to whether or not a person gets bond. You have asked about three questions, can I go to someone else?

Berkowitz: Okay, we'll come back, thanks.

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Berkowitz: Can I go back to the bail issue?

Mayor Lightfoot: Yes, go ahead.

Berkowitz: So, let me try to get this right. If the person is pulled over with an AK-47 or an AR-15, he is in a [geographic] area where that is the weapon of choice to settle gang scores. It is clearly his gun. There is no dispute as to that. But, he has no other priors...Should he be detained without bond in that situation? And, if not, what other information would you have to have in order for you to make that recommendation?

Mayor Lightfoot: Well, I don't make those recommendations.

Berkowitz: I am trying to have you set policy here.

Mayor Lightfoot: Having an AK-47 is against the law. So, that in and of itself I think is a problem.  Obviously, the judge should look at how strong the prosecution's case is, what the other surrounding circumstances are but it raises serious questions as to whether or not that person should be out on bond. But, again-

Berkowitz: Even with no priors?

Mayor Lightfoot: Even with no priors, yes. Of course.

Berkowitz: That's my point.

Another reporter: Does this need to be a change in City or State law?

Mayor Lightfoot: There are no changes that have to happen. This is all information-- making sure the judges get the best information that they can- to be able to make the bail determination. And, obviously, a defendant has multiple bites at the apples- should a judge determine they are endangering or a flight risk and should stay [in jail]. But, making sure that the judges have as much information as they possibly can to make those individualized determinations as they must. We can't paint with a broad brush but our point is: "Let's get the data out." There has been an orchestrated push back over the last week- since CPD launched this data portal to say, "Oh, this portal is terrible." This is public information. Since when is it a problem to put out public information. The site itself has, as its first banner, an appropriate disclaimer that the defendants in these cases are entitled to a presumption of innocence. But, I think the public has a right to know what's going on in our courts. Let's have some more transparency. The data that is there is not something that CPD conjured up.  It is arrest data from CPD, but it is court data. So, it is the same information. But, we are obviously viewing it in very different ways.

Berkowitz: So, you think you and the Chief Judge [Tim Evans] will soon be on the same page?

The August 12, 2019  City Hall press conference with Chicago Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, at City Hall's 5th floor press room from 4:40 pm to 5 pm following their Accountability Monday meeting on the weekend's violence, concludes with the above unanswered question.

 

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