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Now for some good news. Chicago introduced an anti-violence program geared toward inmates who were convicted of violent crimes. While this does not sound like the kind of measure that would produce positive results, the data would indicate otherwise. According to the latest data, those who took part in the READI program were 67% less likely to be involved in a subsequent gun crime and 20% less likely to be the victim of gun violence. 

What does the data say? Well, even as gun violence and crime rates spike throughout the city of Chicago, those who participated in the READI program showed dwindling rates. Those who attended the program had an average of 17 raps on their sheet and many of them had been the victims of gun violence before. Overall, 2500 men were selected for READI Chicago. When compared against a similar group of 2500 men who did not partake in the program, the crime rates were massively lower. The intensive 18-month program was targeted to at-risk males in the Chicago area. The names were drawn algorithmically but focused on those who had violent histories.

Why is This Program Succeeding?

Chicago residents are no strangers to gunfire, but this particular mass shooting was a targeted attack on a predominantly Black neighborhood in one of Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods. The shooter traveled halfway across the state from a small rural upstate town to commit the murder. He researched which area was most likely to contain the most Black people and murdered eight Black people and two white people, all told.

In this case, a federal background check was conducted on the shooter prior to his purchase of an AR-15 in January of this year. Similar failures occurred in the Nikolas Cruz case, the killer who used an AR-15 to shoot up a Parkland high school. In the latter case, the federal government was sued for failing to intervene and for negligently issuing a permit to a deranged psychopath, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

Which Laws Failed?

The police have begun to move on a murder that occurred in 1998 after DNA evidence linked two men to the crime scene. The one man agreed to testify against the other and now, the defense team representing the other man has moved to gain access to the witness and co-conspirator’s medical history. The idea is to suggest that the defendant lacked the ability to remember that he committed a murder in 1998 or any of the details concerning that murder. In other words, they want to suggest that the individual is so unreliable, their testimony should not be admissible in court.

The court has agreed to give the defense access to the witness’s medical records. From this, they will be able to build a defense that the witness is either simply saying what the police want to hear in exchange for testimony against the other defendant and his ability to recall details from such a long time ago is compromised by psychiatric illness and intervention.

Is This Tactic Likely to be Successful?

A recent criminal suit filed against a babysitter has an old controversy back in the forefront. The babysitter is being charged with several felonies related to the death of an infant under her care. The defense had moved to exclude evidence produced by a Chicago physician who would testify that the baby died of trauma related to being shaken.

To make that determination, the doctor uses evidence provided from studies that tell forensic doctors to look for key hallmarks of shaken baby syndrome. The research has come under fire recently sparking a dispute between scientists. 

According to the California Innocence Project, shaken baby syndrome has never been conclusively proven. The notion remains a hypothesis yet is used to convict parents using forensic doctors all the time. These doctors will testify that brain trauma is almost certain the result of the baby being shaken. While the defense can contest this hypothesis, it does not always stop a conviction.

A man told police, among other things, that another man had given him a ride home from a club. The man who offered the ride was later found bludgeoned to death in a pool of his own blood. The suspect, who was covered in blood, initially told police that he fell down the stares, but later revealed that he had bludgeoned the man to death with a hammer after the man had allegedly tried to rape him. Police found the victim’s wallet in the suspect’s possession. The suspect did not have a good reason for possessing the wallet. He has since been charged with first-degree murder.

The man pleaded guilty to a battery charge while out on parole for an unrelated offense. He was sentenced in 2013 for attempted murder. He pleaded self-defense in that case, too.

Analyzing the Defense

In a high-profile criminal trial, a Chicago judge issued a stunning bench verdict in favor of the defense. The case gained national attention after a video surfaced of a man hauling a suitcase out of a public housing complex elevator and struggling to drag it outside. The suitcase allegedly contained the body of a murdered woman. In the video, the man appeared to change his clothes in between exiting and entering the elevator with various cleaning supplies. The judge ruled that this did not constitute evidence of a crime, leaving the family of the victim distressed.

The problem for prosecutors was that there was no evidence of foul play. They could not determine if the victim had actually been murdered and there was no evidence of a crime inside of her apartment. The judge stated that the 65-year-old woman had been drinking that day, and she could have died of natural causes. The defendant had faced murder charges before in 1985, but that case was dismissed when a witness failed to show up. 

The defendant could be seen dragging the suitcase out of the housing complex into a dumpster, lifting the suitcase into the dumpster, then removing trash from other dumpsters to conceal the suitcase. However, the woman’s body was never recovered. 

A Chicago public schools security guard is facing charges that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. The guard was suspended pending an investigation and now more allegations have surfaced. The security guard is now facing two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a minor. The students, who are 15 and 16, say that the security guard touched them inappropriately. Both students were male. The second victim informed his mother of the incident, which is when authorities became involved. They traced their way back to a second victim.

What is Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse?

Aggravated criminal sexual abuse, as opposed to criminal sexual abuse, is sexual abuse plus any one of a number of aggravating circumstances. Aggravating circumstances include the use of a weapon during a sexual assault, the use of drugs to induce a sexual assault, a victim over 60 years of age, or a minor victim when the attacker is an adult. In most cases, aggravated sexual assault is considered a second-degree felony in Illinois. However, when an adult perpetrator and minor victim is involved, it escalates to a class-one felony. 

In a final push to revisit cases in which former Chicago police officer Ronald Watts was involved, the State Attorney’s office reversed course and agreed to vacate 44 convictions. Almost every case that was tied to the former officer has been reviewed. Many convictions have been vacated on appeal after allegations that torture and coercion led to convictions. Watts was also implicated in planting evidence.

Initially, prosecutors appeared ready to defend these cases due to the fact that other officers who were not involved with Watts also contributed to the conviction. However, the DA reversed course and decided to vacate the convictions on the basis that even his cursory involvement was enough to taint the case. A total of 100 convictions have been vacated against 88 defendants as part of an exoneration review of Watts’ cases. Three convictions not associated with exoneration efforts have also been vacated. According to the State Attorney’s office, 212 convictions have been vacated due to Watts’ criminal police work. Only a handful of convictions now remain before the court. 

The officers, many of whom remain on the force, were accused of running a protection racket from a South Side public housing complex. They forced drug dealers to pay a “tax” and pinned bogus charges on anyone who did not. 

If you throw a drink at someone, that is battery. If you throw a drink at someone after calling them a ‘ho’ and demanding that they take their Star of David necklace off, then it is a hate crime. Such is the circumstance of a 30-year-old woman who was offended by the Jewish iconography worn by the bartender. She is now facing enhanced charges of battery evincing evidence of prejudice. 

The woman went off on a tirade concerning Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When the bartender recognized she was Palestinian, she told the woman that she did not mean to upset her. The woman was not consoled. She informed the bartender that she “hated Jews” and then threw her drink at the bartender, striking her in the collarbone. 

The woman was later identified via surveillance footage. She turned herself in before a warrant could be issued. The woman was released on her own recognizance and ordered not to drink or take drugs while her case is pending.

The community of Grand Rapids Michigan is reeling after an officer-involved shooting shows that a suspect was shot in the back of the head while resisting during a routine traffic stop. The events of this shooting are clear as day, but it remains unclear if any officer will be charged with a crime. This comes after police officers involved in the George Floyd murder rejected pleas offered by state prosecutors.

Bodycam footage shows that the officer pulled over a vehicle for having a license plate that did not match the vehicle. The officer pulls over the vehicle and the suspect immediately gets out of the car. The suspect does not have a weapon, looks confused, and tells the officer he has a license, but does not produce one. Later, the suspect can be seen walking away from the officer and then running. The officer pursues, tackles the suspect, and a struggle ensues. The officer draws his taser, the suspect intercepts it with his hands and diverts it. A struggle ensues. The officer is on top of the suspect when he discharges his weapon into the back of the suspect’s head. The suspect dies immediately. An autopsy confirms that the cause of death is a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Police reform advocates are saying this is another example of ineffective policing leading to tragedy. Pro-police advocates say that the suspect was still reaching for the officer’s taser when he fired the weapon.

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