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Violence in Chicago: Chief Justice Denies Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s request for a moratorium on Cook County’s electronic surveillance for some

CHICAGO – Cook County’s chief judge says it would be against the law if judges followed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s recent plea to jail most “violent, dangerous offenders” instead of waiting for electronic ones Lock monitoring devices.

Lightfoot two weeks ago, faced with the highest year-end homicide figure in decades, called on the courts to impose a “moratorium” on electronic surveillance for most of those accused of gun violations or violent crimes. The mayor wrote a formal request to Chief Justice Tim Evans on December 29th.

“I must continue to raise the alarm about the growing number of offenders being repatriated to Chicago communities through electronic surveillance in the detention center,” the mayor wrote. “The skyrocketing numbers of violent and dangerous people on EM are one of these drivers as it affects the communities they return to in multiple and damaging ways.”

In a statement Tuesday, Evans said that Lightfoot’s motion to end electronic surveillance of some defendants, under the constitutions of the US and state constitutions, treated them as if they were “held guilty until proven innocent”.

“A judge cannot bring anyone to justice without establishing that the accused poses a real and present threat to a person’s physical safety. This needs to be established by clear and convincing evidence and the burden of proof rests on the prosecutor, ”wrote Evans. “The mayor’s proposal appears to require that defendants facing certain allegations be held guilty until proven innocent.”

The use of electronic surveillance devices has grown dramatically since 2017 when Evans reformulated the roster of judges handling bond hearings and issued a mandate that made assignments more affordable to limit the number of inmates waiting to be tried in the Cook County Jail Deposit amounts and the increase in guarantees of recognition and electronic surveillance.

The use of “EM” continued to increase in the spring of 2020 as prosecutors and judges worked to reduce the number of inmates amid the rampant spread of COVID-19.

SEE MORE: Lightfoot addresses public safety and crime in the city; urges AG to send more resources to Chicago

According to a report from Evans’ office, the number of defendants with electronic surveillance was 3,599 as of mid-2021, an increase of about 1,400 from 2017.

Lightfoot said last month it wanted an immediate moratorium on electronic surveillance of criminals “who are the main charges: murder, attempted murder, armed possession, felons, sex crimes, illicit gun possession, car theft, kidnapping or attempted kidnapping, or other crimes”. of violence. “

When arrested people are taken to EM, most of the time they have to stay at home and are equipped with a tracking device that alerts the sheriff’s office if they go anywhere they are prohibited from staying. The Pre-Trial Services Division, an agency under Evans’ jurisdiction, also operates an electronic surveillance program.

Lightfoot’s letter states that of the 3,400 people currently under electronic surveillance, 2,300 are charged with a “violent crime,” including 90 murder suspects. The letter also lists EM defendants for other crimes, including car theft and gun possession by a felon.

Chicago police records show that 130 people were arrested while under electronic surveillance for a “violent crime,” Lightfoot said. Evans noted that the number of 130 would represent less than 1% of all cases involving an indictment of a violent or weapons-related crime.

According to a 2020 report by Loyola University researchers, more than 80% of the defendants were not arrested on new charges while in custody, and only 3% were re-arrested on a violent crime.

Cook County Public Defense Attorney Sharone Mitchell also noted that the vast majority of the defendants released on EM will not be re-arrested and will attend all of their pre-trial hearings.

“The mayor has proposed arresting people on charges. It is unconstitutional. We need to hold a hearing to see if a person should be detained,” Mitchell said in a statement. “The idea that people are innocent until proven guilty is not a dusty legal precedent. This fundamental right exists because our system goes wrong all the time. Getting arrested for something doesn’t mean someone is guilty. “

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire – Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2022.)

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