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The [Tuesday] Papers

"Tina Hunt had gone to the Cook County criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue to attend her son's court appearance in November 2013 when she found herself in a dispute with sheriff's deputies," Steve Schmadeke reports for the Tribune.

"After she was taken into custody, a sheriff's deputy charged that she kicked him in the shin during a struggle in a lockup at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

"On Wednesday, the 49-year-old grandmother is scheduled to return to the same courthouse to be sentenced for her felony conviction for aggravated battery of a peace officer.

"With convictions for two violent crimes decades ago, Hunt faces a mandatory minimum of six years in prison, even though the deputy testified at trial that the kick didn't hurt and left no marks on his shin. The harsh penalty is the result of Illinois' version of the 'three-strikes' law."

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Unsurprisingly, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez supports the prosecution. Surprisingly, so does Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Go read the rest.

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Let's go to the archives:

"With crime topping the charts as an issue of concern to voters, politicians from President Clinton on down are singing a get-tough tune," the Sun-Times reported in 1994.

"But Illinois' last major 'get tough' campaign in 1978 suggests such drives can be long on costs and short on results. And while the latest lock-them-up medley may indeed end up soothing election-year fears, few experts expect it to do anything to lower crime rates."

Three-strikes laws were a big deal in 1994 - along with other so-called get-tough-on-crime measures.

"Clinton also included $2.7 billion in his budget for crime-prevention initiatives. Those include $1.7 billion for more police officers, $450 million to increase the capacity of correctional facilities and $85 million to cover the added expenses of detaining more people in jails and prisons.

Voters also were calling for get-tough measures in 1977, when Gov. Thompson and legislators overhauled the state's criminal sentencing laws. The legislation produced the state's Class X label for serious crimes and set mandatory prison terms based on the offense.

The overhaul, other laws adopted since then and the aggressive prosecution of drug offenders in the 1980s have contributed to an increase in felony convictions, longer average sentences, and an expensive tripling of the state's adult inmate population. But the crime rate kept inching up.

The number of serious crimes per 100,000 people went to 5,829 in 1992, the last year for which complete figures are available, from 4,865 in 1978, the year the overhaul took effect.

Common sense says the crime rate might have been higher had those criminals not been behind bars, but it's difficult to determine the relationship. One thing is clear, however: When Illinois asks more criminals to pay their debt to society, taxpayers get the bill.

They've had to fork over more than $400 million to build 14 new prisons since 1978, and even that's not enough to house all the new criminals - the system is now at 153 percent of capacity.

The prison system had 10,700 adult offenders in custody in 1978, but now has nearly 35,000. That increase comes at a time when the state's population has basically been static.

New prisoners have caused the department's operating budget to skyrocket to $658 million this year from $115 million in 1978, with the average prisoner now costing the state nearly $16,000 a year.

Many crime experts argue the money is not well-spent if the goal is to reduce crime. Even if the incarceration rate is a factor in crime reduction, the number of males in their teens and 20s - the high-crime years - is a far more significant factor, as are poverty, education, unemployment and unstable families.

"If only we could spend that on the front end of the criminal justice system," said Shelley Bannister, associate professor of criminal justice at Northeastern Illinois University. "I'd like to see more politicians get tough on poverty, get tough on lack of education, get tough on child abuse."

Do we ever learn?

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P.S.: "Adds Daniel Polsby, a criminal law professor at Northwestern University's School of Law: 'Crime rates reflect the input of a billion different variables. Anybody who says We got tough on crime and then crime went down isn't talking in the language of science.'"

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Hunt is being sentenced under Illinois' three-strikes law, but here's more about what was happening on the federal level in 1994 - setting the tone for everybody else. (I think Illinois' law was extended in 1994, too; I didn't have time to fully research it.)

The "three strikes and you're out" proposal embraced by President Clinton has a good chance of passing Congress but little chance of deterring violent crime, experts said.

"It's a political gimmick and an example of bipartisan political hypocrisy," said Norval Morris, professor emeritus in law and criminology at the University of Chicago. "Some politicians in both parties know it is of no use, and all of them know it is no remedy."

Other criminologists agreed that there is no evidence to show that mandatory life sentences for three-time violent offenders would deter violent crime.

That turned out to be absolutely true.

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P.S.: "One dissenting academician, Joseph Bisset, on the faculty of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., said he knew of no studies showing that a 'three strikes' law would deter crime but insisted that deterrence was not the chief argument for it.

"'The main issue is just punishment,' said Bisset, who was an adviser to Richard M. Daley when the mayor was state's attorney."

*

Also:

Members of Congress, some grudgingly and others gladly, endorsed the "get tough" crime remedy Clinton proposed in his State of the Union speech, even as criminologists scoffed.

"It's part of the message that we are being tough on crime," said Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.), asserting she has seen evidence the tougher sentencing law for habitual criminals adopted in Illinois has "had an effect."

Moseley-Braun, who voted for a bill pending in the Senate that includes the "three-strikes" provision, predicted that it has a "good chance" of passage. She opposed a similar provision while in the Illinois General Assembly.

Obviously not pleased, Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) advised Clinton not "to take a John Wayne approach." But pressed on the issue, Rush said, "I'm not opposed to them exercising the toughest penalty against a person who commits a violent crime three times."

In the adjoining congressional district, Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) applauded Clinton: "I agree with the president, but I might have been a little tougher: two times and you are out."

Democrats, ladies and gentlemen. It was just part of the message.

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Why Obama Owns Gun Stocks
Hint: Blame the Illinois General Assembly.

Riding The Dog, Pt. 3: Meet Me At The Esquire Lounge
Alone-Men and Hai Karate.

The Best Super Bowl Commercial You Didn't See
St. Louis personal injury lawyer wins the day.

Court Confirms: Kevin Trudeau A Big Fat Liar
Geez, you've gotta read this decision.

The Revolutionary Sounds Of Chicago Cratedigger Kanye West
Is the best album ever coming out this week? Possibly.

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BeachBook

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Remember when Mayor Daley insisted the CHA's "Plan for Transformation" wasn't just a real estate grab? Some of us knew better.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Displace.



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Posted on February 9, 2016


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