CHICAGO, IL – Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is launching an initiative that could see thousands of Illinois prisoners released from their sentences. It means some victims who found peace in the thought their persecutors were locked away forever could be in for a shock.
The re-sentencing scheme takes advantage of a new state law that empowers prosecutors to identify prisoners whose sentences no longer advance “the interests of justice.”
Cook County prosecutors will soon begin arguing in court that certain longtime inmates deserve more lenient sentences, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office said Friday. https://t.co/bQd9ROlAIo
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) March 18, 2022
Foxx is starting small with the highly controversial plan, with just three resentencing motions coming this week and two more planned for later this month. In trying to sell the program to a violence-weary public, Foxx said:
“We recognize that as criminal justice has evolved, so must our position on these cases. And when we look at our incarceration rates, and we look at the history of over incarceration, and where we are now, it’s a matter of truly when you know better, you do better. And so, this is an effort by us to … go back and not just acknowledge the wrongs of the past but try to correct them.”
The program carries some political risk even for a Democrat like Foxx, who is already seen as unwilling or unable to address a culture of violence in Chicago, as it puts prosecutors and defense attorneys on the same side by pushing for leniency over punishment.
Foxx acknowledged the optics are bad in a time of surging lawlessness and said her office will seek to prove that the early releases will not endanger public safety. But make no mistake, the plan is to expand the effort dramatically once the first few cases are in the public. Foxx said:
“I think we have to show people that it works … There are segments of our population who believe, ‘you’ve done the crime you do the time, even if you wouldn’t get that same time today.’ ” So, I think the initial foray into this is to show people what it looks like, to destigmatize what the process looks like, to demonstrate that this is actually good public policy and it’s actually good for us as a community.”
Consider this stunt Kim Foxx's method of sending Chicago's criminal underclass some reinforcements.
Kim Foxx is subsidizing crime on our streets and just in time for the annual summer crime offensive.
Foxx said her goal is to expand the program. https://t.co/TwC8xgOQ9l
— Chicago Contrarian (@ChicagoContrar1) March 18, 2022
For now, as part of the plan to calm Cook County residents’ nerves about the early releases, Foxx has set narrow parameters around who will be considered for resentencing.
She said the office will focus on elderly inmates, prisoners who were very young when they offended or people who have served at least 10 years of a sentence for drugs, burglary, robbery or theft. She said inmates who are in prison for a homicide or a sex crime will not be eligible.
Foxx said she did not know how many prisoners might fit the current criteria but estimated a potential pool of “thousands” of people.
In the fine print, however, is Foxx’s real goal: She said she eventually wants to loosen the criteria for eligibility. In other words, Foxx plans to sell the program to the public using one set of criteria and once in place expand the list of crimes that could be considered, opening the doors to thousands of jail cells.
“I’m always expecting backlash because it’s different than what we’ve normally done. Here in Cook County, we have been very much entrenched in a culture with our justice system that had been very punitive, that … the way to fight crime was to just lock everybody up.”
Right now, three Cook County prosecutors are assigned only part-time to work on resentencing motions, but Foxx plans to employ a team of prosecutors dedicated solely to the program.
The office is getting free assistance from the pro-bono division of the international law firm Winston & Strawn. Attorneys there are helping the county identify potential resentencing candidates and will then represent them in court if a resentencing motion is filed.
In identifying inmates who will be eligible, Foxx said the office is looking for inmates who have stayed out of trouble in prison, achieved educational or career enhancements while incarcerated and have re-entry plans in the event they are released. Foxx said they are speaking to victims and working to ensure the prisoner would not be a threat to the public if released.
Greg McConnell, senior pro bono counsel for Winston & Strawn, explained the process:
“What we will do is work with that individual to identify, ‘Okay, so if you’re going to be released, where are you going to live? What are your employment prospects?’ So we can help the state’s attorney understand what will happen if, in fact, you are released earlier than your release date.”
The program has been touted by the left as one tool in an effort to reverse what they call mass incarceration. More than 25,000 people were in custody in the state at the end of 2021, the Illinois Department of Corrections recently reported.
McConnell, who was anticipating early releases for about 25 people by the end of the year, said the program’s impact on inmate population would be negligible. McConnell said:
“I don’t think this is a mass incarceration [solution] … I think this is an evaluation of either changing circumstances or changed thinking.”
But again, this is just the start of a program that will eventually release thousands of prison inmates.
A 2018 California law is the inspiration for the Illinois resentencing bill, which passed the general assembly last summer and was signed into law in July by Democrat Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The California law was promoted by former prosecutor Hillary Blout, who founded the advocacy organization For The People. The group lobbied for the change in Illinois law. Blout said:
“I knew that there were several people that I’d prosecuted, and just people in prison that didn’t need to be there. And so I worked on this law, and it’s the first in the country here in California that gives prosecutors this ability.”
According to Blout, over the past three years 12 California jurisdictions have launched resentencing units and more than 100 people have been released from prison. There is no word on any follow-up on the former prisoners’ success outside of prison.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx keeps releasing criminals – including accused murderers and gang bangers
October 6, 2021
CHICAGO, IL – According to reports, the rift between Chicago Police’s duty to arrest and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx deciding to prosecute is widening – leaving questions as to what can be done when a county attorney isn’t prosecuting alleged offenders.
— Rafael A. Mangual (@Rafa_Mangual) October 5, 2021
City Journal’s Thomas Hogan coined the standing between Chicago Police and Foxx as being at “loggerheads” with one another, writing that at first “it was low-level crimes that Foxx declined to prosecute,” then she declined to prosecute Jussie Smollett for his “hate-crime hoax”, and now she’s graduated to not prosecuting murder cases and gang shootings.
A murder case that Foxx has decided to not prosecute regarded a 7-year-old girl named Serenity Broughton, who was fatally shot on August 15th and critically wounded her 6-year-old sister. Detectives told the family of the slain girl that they had a suspect in the case and had plenty of evidence to prosecute.
Yet, the State’s Attorney’s Office claimed that the evidence wasn’t enough and declined prosecution.
Michael Broughton, the slain girl’s father, called it an “atrocity”:
“This is an atrocity and it’s happening much too frequently. It’s happening much too often and there’s nothing being done about it. There’s people going unpunished for these crimes. It’s unfathomable.”
#ICYMI: The family of 7-year-old Serenity Broughton say they are angry and frustrated after learning that the man suspected of shooting and killing her and injuring her younger sister last month in Belmont Central is back out on the streets. https://t.co/hIcsBo4Jea
— Vi Nguyen (@ViNguyen) September 9, 2021
Another matter that is drawing scrutiny is Foxx’s decision to not prosecute five men reportedly linked to a gang shootout earlier in October that left one person dead and two others wounded.
All five suspects who were arrested under suspicion of several felonies, to include murder, were released after Foxx’s office proclaimed, “the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges.”
A police report noting the declined charges said that Foxx’s reason for there being lacking evidence was because the alleged shooters were “mutual combatants”.
A similar argument was brought by Foxx’s office in a case she refused to prosecute from September where an 18-year-old was fatally stabbed by a 17-year-old, claiming the fatal fight was mutual combat.
To demonstrate how much ire Foxx is conjuring with her prosecutorial discretion, she’s even managed to get Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to push back against her unwillingness to effectively do her job.
Mayor Lightfoot brushed off State’s Attorney Foxx’s claims that she had her facts wrong and said that she’d effectively circumvented Foxx by asking the feds to review evidence in a gang-related gunfight last week. https://t.co/AfrdRFpwuu
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) October 6, 2021
After Foxx criticized Mayor Lightfoot over raising the alarm about Foxx no prosecuting the suspects in the fatal gang shooting, Mayor Lightfoot decided to simply circumvent Foxx’s office for prosecution in the case and is bringing the evidence to U.S. Attorney John Lausch to review:
“I’ve also reached out to the U.S. attorney to ask him to also evaluate the evidence that was there to see if there’s a possibility for federal charges.”
While many know of Lighfoot as being the Mayor of Chicago, in a past life she was a federal prosecutor herself, and said that the evidence police have on the case is “compelling” for a murder charge:
“Whatever evidence that needs to be gathered, the police department is going to be Johnny on the spot and make sure we get it. But this is, to me, a very compelling case.”
Apparently, there’s multiple pieces of video evidence that captured the gang shootout that left one dead, which is why Mayor Lightfoot is standing by the evidence collected in the case:
“We cannot send a message that it is OK and you get a pass that you shoot up a residence in broad daylight, captured on film, and no consequences will happen to you. That can’t be a world that we live in.”
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