Chief judge denies Chicago Mayor’s request to keep more violent offenders locked up instead of releasing them


CHICAGO, IL- According to reports, Cook County’s top judge is refusing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s request to halt the release of pretrial defendants charged with certain crimes, alleging that the data she used to push for that change is inaccurate. 

Mayor Lightfoot’s request comes as the city is on a 20-month gun violence surge, lifting 2021’s homicide total to 836, the most in a quarter century.

On Tuesday, January 18th, Chief Judge Timothy Evans said he sent a letter criticizing the mayor’s request.

He is opposing Lightfoot’s request for a “temporary moratorium” on releasing defendants on electronic monitoring (EM), if they face offenses including murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery, sex crimes, carjacking, kidnapping, and illegal weapons possession.

In a statement that described his letter to Lightfoot, Evans’ office said:

“There is no evidence that individuals released from pretrial detention are driving this wave of violence. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, [the violence] has struck both cities like Chicago that have undergone bail reform and cities that have not.”

Chief judge denies Chicago Mayor's request to keep more violent offenders locked up instead of releasing them

Reportedly, bail reforms that took place in 2017 coupled with the pandemic responses in 2020, have allowed more people in Cook County to wait for their trial not in pre-trial detention or jail, but on EM instead. 

The county’s main EM program, run by Sheriff Tom Dart’s office, requires that defendants stay home unless they have court-approved permission to leave for work, school or job-skills training.

According to Dart’s office, the daily EM population during 2021 averaged around 3,300, which is up from about 2,200 four years earlier.

Lightfoot’s moratorium request includes the weapons possession charges even if the defendant does not have a criminal background. At a January 4th news conference she described those offenses as “gateways” to more serious crimes.

On December 29, 2021, Lightfoot sent her letter to Evans, urging his to “consider the effect on victims, witnesses, and survivors of having violent, dangerous people right back on the streets within days of their arrests.” She wrote:

“Imagine if you are someone who has been victimized by gun violence and you summon the courage to provide law enforcement with information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible.

The within 24-48 hours after the arrest, that same person is back on the streets with virtually no restriction of movement. Would any of us feel safe in that scenarios?”

Evans, however, pointed to constitutional problems with keeping people in jail based on accusations by police. He said:

“In our justice system, the accuser is not the adjudicator. A judge, not a prosecutor or law enforcement official, must decide whether an individual shall be deprived of his or her liberty.”

Evans’ office said that most defendants charged with murder or attempted murder in the county are already in jail.

Of people charged with either of those offenses between October 2019 and September 2021, 86 percent were not released and had to spend the duration of their case incarcerated. 

The statement from Evans’ office said, in part:

“Those who were detained in jail but not convicted were deprived of liberty without having been found guilty of the charges and were unable to pursue education, work, or support their families while in jail.

The law requires that defendants shall be released on the least restrictive conditions that will reasonably ensure they will appear in court and that will reasonably protect the community, witnesses, victims, or any other person.”

Evan’s office said that, among other new arrests in Lightfoot’s data, his staff found defendants whose top charge leading to the EM had been a nonviolent drug offense.

The chief judge’s office said that it also found others in the mayor’s data who were not on EM at the time of their arrest.

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Chicago Mayor and Police Superintendent call out violent criminals being released on electronic monitoring

January 6th, 2022

CHICAGO, IL – Democrat Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Police Superintendent have publicly spoken out about releasing violent offenders on electronic monitoring.

They believe that some of those offenders go on to commit other violent crimes while on the device.

Lighfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown attacked Cook County officials for continuing with the practice of releasing alleged violent offenders back onto the street with a GPS monitor.

Lightfoot noted that 2,300 “violent, dangerous people” had been released after initial court appearances without having to pay bail and placed on electronic monitoring.

Lightfoot noted that these alleged violent offenders are a threat to the community if nothing else because of the crimes they allegedly committed.

Lightfoot said that these people have all been accused of various violent crimes, such as attempted murder, murder, kidnapping, carjacking, and sexual assault.

Lightfoot then noted the number of people who were on electronic monitoring that went on to allegedly reoffend while waiting for their cases to play out in court.

She noted that 133 people, most of whom were wearing GPS anklets, allegedly committed other violent crime.

Because of this, Lightfoot claims the alleged criminals do not believe there are any consequences for their actions which emboldens them to continue criminal activity. She said:

“We are sending a message to them [criminals] they are free to go about their business…and [commit violent crimes] again and again and again.”

Lightfoot then noted an even more alarming fact, that 90 people are currently out on the streets, in the community wearing GPS monitoring that have been accused of murder.

How anyone who is accused of murder be out on the streets free to commit another murder pending their court appearance is baffling.

Lightfoot said, despite her stance on this issue, typically endorses criminal justice reform, especially in the jail system. She said that jails should not be full of people who simply cannot afford bail while awaiting trial, but she does not believe that should apply to those accused of violent crimes.

She said:

“It is mind-blowing when you think about what has happened under the moniker of criminal justice reform. That is not criminal justice reform. What that is, is making our streets more dangerous.”

This mindset supports the fear that citizens and tourists seemingly have when they are in the city. Lightfoot says the fear has made the people in the city believe that their leadership has lost control. She said:

“We cannot live in a world where residents of neighborhoods feel like the gangs and the violent, dangerous people have control; where they fear – those residents fear the gangs, and that they think we have lost control. And unfortunately, that is sadly true in too many neighborhoods.”

In addition to demanding that Cook County judges end the practice of releasing violent offenders with electronic monitoring, Lightfoot and Brown are pushing to disrupt the gang cycle in the city. She said:

“In too many neighborhoods, gangs are targeting young boys – young boys with promise, young boys with a whole history an opportunity in front of them. But they’re targeting them with false promises of wealth, an easy life, and a sense of purpose and belonging.”

Lightfoot is pushing for the City Council to work on and pass a proposal named the Victims’ Justice Ordinance to help in their fight of disrupting the gang cycle. The ordinance would provide more opportunities for police to seize cash and other assets from gang members.

In addition to the above ordinance, Lightfoot has pledged to increase the number of officers who are designated to attack the gangs in the city.

Officer down: Off-duty officer killed in robbery and carjacking - teen woman under arrest

Illinois man spent no time in prison for 6th felony gun conviction, now charged with 7th felony gun possession

CHICAGO, IL – Damien Stewart is building quite the resume. But it isn’t one you would find on LinkedIn.

He has racked up a total of 6 felony gun-related convictions since 2008.

And somehow, he was on the street to be charged with a potential 7th.

The prosecutor responsible for that fact? Risa Lanier. The same Risa Lanier that was the lead prosecutor in the original Jussie Smollett case. 

Her botched handling of that case led to an investigation into her boss, Kim Foxx. 

As noted by CWB Chicago, “unlike most people who bring embarrassment on their boss and fumble an assignment that launches deep scrutiny of one’s employer, Lanier was subsequently promoted to oversee all of the county’s prosecutions.”

Enter Stewart. 

Illinois man spent no time in prison for 6th felony gun conviction, now charged with 7th felony gun possession
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When he was appearing for his 6th conviction, Lanier directed the prosecutor on Stewart’s case to make an “appropriate offer” based on evidence, the law and conversations with the victims. 

“So, I was not telling anyone to, you know, to give away the candy store or make any sweetheart deals, we want to ensure that the work that we’re doing that we’re continuing to do it with integrity, despite the circumstances that we’re under, but we do empower our [assistants] to look at their cases and to use their discretion,” Lanier said.

Here are the charges Stewart was facing: 

Class X armed habitual criminal, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon with previous convictions, ten counts of aggravated battery of police, aggravated assault of a peace officer by using a firearm, and DUI.

The charge of aggravated assault with a firearm carries a mandatory sentence of 6-30 years when ruled a class X felony. Stewart was looking at a serious stint in prison, potentially the rest of his life. 

Keep in mind, he was a 5-time convict for similar crimes. His other sentences included two years each for his first two convictions, three for his third, six for his fourth and five for his fifth.

His first five convictions netted him 18 years behind bars.

It is apparent that he didn’t serve the majority of that time, given that his convictions occurred in 2008 (2), 2009 (1), 2010 (1), and 2015 (1).  

His 6th conviction occurred in 2019, 4 years after his conviction that landed him in prison for 5 years. 

With all of that background included for context, we now proceed ahead in this story.

The prosecutor on his case offered him a deal. Cook County agreed to drop ALL of the charges against him except one, if he would agree to plead guilty to that one charge. That charge was felon in possession of a firearm with a previous conviction. 

But wait, Lanier said she wasn’t authorizing sweetheart deals.

Buckle up, it gets better.

The prosecutor reduced that remaining charge to a class 4 aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Class 4 is the lowest level felony in the state of Illinois. What was potentially going to be a long-term prison sentence was reduced down to 3 years.  

Let’s not forget that 11 of the 15 charges were for aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a firearm of peace officer. 

Wait, we aren’t finished adding the ridiculousness that is this case. 

On May 6, 2019, Judge James Linn presided over the case and sentenced Stewart to three years. Then he announced that those three years were offset by the time he spent on an electronic monitor and in jail prior to pleading guilty. 

On May 7th, Stewart was assigned and transported to the Stateville Correctional Center. According to records from the Illinois Department of Corrections and obtained by CWB, he was also released that same day. 

It should come as no shock that Stewart was in court again on New Year’s Eve 2021. This time, the charges stemmed from gun-related issues. We will wait while you pretend to be surprised. 

On December 31st, he was charged with Class X armed habitual criminal, possessing an extended ammunition magazine, leaving the scene, failure to report as a gun offender, and filing a false police report.

Here is what led to those charges. 

On or about the 29th of December, Stewart, who was still on parole for the 2019 conviction, was contacted as part of a traffic stop. 

Police say that as they approached the vehicle, they witnessed Stewart making movements toward the back seat. He was alone in the vehicle. He provided the officer his driver’s license.

When the officers on the scene saw a semi-automatic handgun with an extended round magazine, they asked him to step out of the vehicle. Stewart refused, and when an officer attempted to open the door, he sped away. 

He did, however, leave his license behind. Stewart crashed his car three blocks away. When police arrived, the vehicle was unoccupied, and the gun was gone. Police recovered his wallet and his cell phone. 

A few hours later, Stewart walked into the 5th Police District station to report his vehicle stolen.

Police say that he entered wearing the same clothes he had on during the traffic stop. He claimed that the vehicle was stolen along with his wallet, cell phone and ID. 

Officers went outside to speak with a woman whom Stewart identified as his wife. 

According to Assistance State’s Attorney John Gnilka, said that the woman told police that she had a gun in the car, but she held a concealed carry permit.

Officers searched the vehicle and found a gun with an extended capacity magazine that matched the description of the one spotted during the earlier traffic stop.  

While Judge Mary Marubio set Stewart’s bond at $250,000, he cannot be released even if he posts the 10% required. At least not until the state can review his parole status and determine next steps in regard to these new charges. 

And people wonder why gun-related offenses are the way they are in Chicago. Primarily, progressive politicians and activist prosecutors who do everything they can to limit the amount of time violent criminals spend in a jail cell. 


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