Sheriff Tom Dart: Use accurate data in bail debate
Letters to the Editor June 18, 2013 5:38PM
Updated: July 20, 2013 6:31AM
The Sun-Times is right to draw attention to the population of the Cook County Jail and to the broken bail system in our county [“Jail crowding is costly, needs to be fixed,” June 18]. However, as we discuss the population and options for reducing the number of detainees housed in the jail, it is imperative that we talk with accuracy.
This morning, there were 9,971 individuals housed in the jail with 14,724 charges pending against them; 1,107 charges were for murder and 2,203 charges for Class X felonies. Bond was denied on 25 percent of the charges and 85 percent of detainees had at least one prior arrest for a violent crime.
While it is tempting to try to simplify the makeup of the jail population, including perpetuating the fallacy put out by some that 70 percent of detainees are charged with nonviolent offenses and thus should be released, it is irresponsible to do so.
Today, there are 917 detainees on electronic monitoring (“EM”). However, because of inconsistencies in bond amounts for nonviolent detainees, the federal court allows for two retired judges I pay to re-review and overrule the bond amount and release eligible detainees onto EM. Seventeen percent of the detainees on EM have been released under this program.
Repairing our broken bail system is long overdue, but must start with accepting the violent nature of many detainees and the limited non-judicial release options available.
Thomas J. Dart, sheriff, Cook County
A representative of the City of Chicago stated that homicides had decreased in comparison with previous records [“6 dead, at least 41 injured in city’s most violent weekend in 2013,” June 16, 2013]. Yet within 72 hours, 41 people were injured and six others were killed. It’s disturbing that the report can be considered good news because it’s still a decrease.
Have people become accustomed to violence within their community? How does the violence impact them? This is a concern because the mental and emotional well-being of individuals is at risk. Exposure to community violence has a negative effect on adults as well as youths. Exposure to violence is a form of trauma and can have adverse effects if untreated.
Increased police presence is one step to decrease the violence but further efforts are required. Treating and preventing wounds is great but where is the help for emotional healing?
Porcia Seals, Bronzeville
Arming Syria American way
The Obama administration has decided to arm the Syrian rebels. Will the rebels be limited to eight rounds per magazine? Will the rebels also be subjected to background checks and firearms registration?
Tom O’Brien, Humboldt Park
Bikers need police attention
On Diversey Street it is impossible to walk without constantly being threatened by bikers going to and from Lincoln Park. They weave among foot traffic, people using walkers, mothers pushing baby carriages, and the disabled on motorized chairs, often in a space compressed to only five feet. I recently was run into by one myself. When I tell the bikers they should be in the street, not on the sidewalk, I get the standard middle finger or its verbal equivalent.
I’ve lived on this street for 40 years and not once, in all that time, have I seen a policeman stop or speak to one of these inconsiderate and potentially harmful violators.
Now that the police have stiffer fines to deal with renegade bikers, I hope they will do so.
Donald Norsic, Lincoln Park
School closings represent a major disruption
The closure of the 50 CPS schools is devastating not only to the families of the approximately 30,000 children whose lives and academic progress will be severely damaged by the closures, but also to the hardworking, underpaid and under-appreciated teachers who have dedicated their lives to those children and who now will lose their jobs. At what point do we as a city stand up to the heartless insanity of moving forward with a completely racist (despite spin from City Hall, the closures impact “minority” children massively) and illogical move? Assurances from a mayor so disassociated from reality and real people are not enough.
Edward Juillard, Beverly