By the end of 2021, Chicago topped 800 homicides. Car hijackings are on the rise.
People are scared.
“I know that people for whom violence is a daily concern are particularly stressed. And that more recently, violence has seeped into other neighborhoods that historically have not been plagued by violent crime. As mayor of this city, I want to assure you that from day one of my term as mayor, public safety has been, is and will continue to be my highest priority, ”Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Monday in a special speech to show she takes things seriously, with proposals such as calling for anyone accused of violent crimes to be kept in jail before trial, hiring more homicide detectives and a call for the federal government to send more agents to Chicago to combat gun trafficking across state lines.
Lightfoot has consistently harassed the county criminal justice system for what she describes as lenient treatment of offenders accused of violent crimes.
She reiterated that in her speech, saying it “defies common sense” that local judges have released from prison for electronic surveillance offenders accused of crimes such as rape or holding someone at gunpoint. on fire, a pattern that she says left Chicago neighborhoods “to catch.”
Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty and prisons should not be debtor prisons full of delinquents behind bars because they cannot afford to pay bail, she said. declared.
“But if you are accused of having killed someone, of having attempted to kill someone, of having taken a vehicle at gunpoint, of rape or of violence against someone in your house or theirs? For these people, I absolutely believe that they should be locked up awaiting trial, because they demonstrate a “real and current threat to the physical security of persons and the community”, as defined by the law of the ‘State of Illinois,’ she said.
Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who catapulted himself into the political arena after being head of the Chicago Police Board, is calling for a moratorium on electronic surveillance of those accused of the crimes.
She says oversight is supposed to be accompanied by oversight, but it’s not.
“In Cook County, there is virtually no supervision or mandatory community intervention. Cook County’s electronic surveillance system is fundamentally flawed in a way that makes our city unsafe, ”she said. “County courts must redress the balance and reserve electronic monitoring only for non-violent offenders. “
We don’t know how the moratorium would work. Lightfoot’s office did not respond to a request for details and she did not respond to questions from reporters after her afternoon speech at Garfield Park grounds, but said she would formally ask the Chief Justice Tim Evans to implement the moratorium.
Evans spokesperson released a statement Monday evening saying the office had not received a request from the mayor.
“We share concerns about the tragic violence in our community. It is both a local and a national problem. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to find solutions to this complex problem, ”the statement said.
Evans did not respond directly to the general sentiment of Lightfoot’s critics of the justice system.
Cook County State Attorney’s Office Kim Foxx also released a statement in plain language that did not directly target any of the mayor’s proposals.
“The Cook County State Attorney’s Office agrees that the rise in violence in Chicago and in towns and cities across the country is cause for concern. The violence crisis requires a multi-faceted city and county approach, ”the Foxx office said. “We remain committed to working with all of our partners to ensure safety in all of our communities. “
Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell called Lightfoot’s plan regressive and questioned its legality.
“The bail proposal (is) clearly unconstitutional given that each person has the right to an individualized hearing specific to their case and, quite frankly, would result in the incarceration of countless innocent and unsuccessful people. . “
He also said that by disrupting communities, the plan would have the opposite effect of his intention.
“This idea that we’re going to start punishing people just on the basis of an allegation from the Chicago Police Department, we believe that not only will explode the prison population, not only will result in the incarceration of a number of people. ‘innocent, but it won’t do anything. to keep our communities safe, ”Mitchell said.
Mitchell argued for the decriminalization of illegal firearm possession and noted that the mayor’s plan called for remand not only of those accused of using a firearm, but also of those accused of having used a firearm. own one wrongly.
Lightfoot in her speech, as she has done before, called for reverse tactics and pushed Congress to enact universal pre-gun background checks and state lawmakers to crack down on so-called ghost weapons, which can be assembled at home. from parts without serial numbers such as those used by law enforcement to trace firearms used in crimes.
The mayor said the city will add more homicide detectives and reduce the number of homicide detectives, with the aim of further improving the resolution rate of cases.
But the mayor said only the federal government can tackle gun trafficking across state borders.
Lightfoot said she would formally ask U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland to send more agents to Chicago.
Regarding gangs, the mayor highlighted the million dollars awarded as a reward to community members who show up to help police solve crimes, and said the city will redouble its efforts to support those who reintegrate. society after prison.
Another part of the mayor’s plan is something she’s already talked about: attacking gang bosses’ profits. So far, city council has not backed the plan to confiscate civilian assets, with critics claiming it increases distrust of the criminal justice system while disproportionately targeting poor people of color. .
Lightfoot has hinted that she has a new version up her sleeve, saying the old incarnations of civilian asset forfeiture used in the ’90s were legitimately dismissed, but gave no details on whether, or how, she was updating her proposal.
She also called license plate readers a “game changer” in the hunt for criminals, and said Chicago would “dramatically expand” the city’s network of cameras and license plate reading technology.
Chicago will also invest record amounts in community organizations.
Lightfoot said violence and crime are manifestations of deeper problems and that solving them requires tackling historical poverty and neglect.
“If we are serious about ending the cycle of community violence once and for all, in addition to holding violent and dangerous people to account, we must address the root causes of violence,” she said. “We can and must invest to get out of this problem. “
Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky