Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney

I am utterly devoted to the election of Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney.

Rarely has our county— and the oblong city which makes up most of its mass— been presented with such a stark choice. Foxx is looking to replace the incumbent, Anita Alzarez, who has failed again and again, in cases large and small, in to act in the best interests of the people.

Find a well-researched laundry list here: The case against Anita Alvarez. The theme is aggressive prosecution against regular residents of Cook County and slow or negligent efforts to prosecute those who have power over us.

It is a matter of priorities.

These are the priorities of Kim Foxx. I am copy/ pasting the entire list here, so that we can have them preserved. When Foxx is elected, I want to be able to return to this list and measure progress.

IMPLEMENT THE RIGHT PRIORITIES IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Too many of our communities are ravaged by violent crime, while our current criminal justice system is more committed to the destabilizing incarceration of nonviolent offenders than to keeping communities safe. The State’s Attorney’s office should be the fair and unbiased arbiter of justice, diverting people with mental illness and drug addiction to the appropriate treatments and doling out stern but fair sentences to those who commit violence.

What Kim will do:

  • Employ evidence-based practices to ensure the equal administration of the law and fight against racially disparate outcomes
  • Deploy an early-intervention model to divert low-risk offenders from the criminal system and into treatment programs and other community-based initiatives
  • Work to implement presumptive sentencing rules to ensure that violent offenders who use guns to commit crimes get serious penalties, but that those penalties are meted out based on rigid, unbiased guidelines

REFORMING THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM

A young person’s first interaction with the criminal justice system is a pivotal turning point in his or her life. Currently, the justice system sends too many children down the path to recidivism with policies that over punish youthful offenses rather than create an opportunity for meaningful, positive interventions to set youth on the path to college and careers, not the first step on the road to a lifetime of incarceration.

What Kim will do:

  • Disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by ending excessive arrests on school grounds and refusing to up-charge schoolchildren for in-school misbehavior
  • Form partnerships with schools and other youth agencies to implement restorative justice practices for young people
  • Recruit top talent for the juvenile division instead of using it as a second-tier assignment or a stepping-stone elsewhere

STRENGTHENING THE WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS UNIT

Shamefully, Cook County has become notorious for wrongful convictions. The lives of hundreds of innocent people have been irreparably harmed–and these inexcusable mistakes have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

What Kim will do:

  • Work with a panel of outside experts to assist in reevaluating the evidence in cases in question
  • Increase staffing in the Conviction Integrity Unit to ensure we have enough manpower to adequately address this urgent need
  • Collaborate with other prosecuting agencies like the U.S. Attorney and Attorney General to ensure the integrity of convictions

IMPROVING THE OFFICE

The State’s Attorney’s office is broken — and it’s costing the taxpayers, victims, and offenders dearly. The office needs bold reforms to the office to streamline case management, eliminate inefficiency and wasteful spending, increase diversity in office hiring, and modernize the functions of the office.

What Kim will do:

  • Reduce such wasteful spending as providing a taxpayer-funded vehicle for every member of senior staff — current practice in the office
  • Invest in professional and personal development for Attorneys to reduce turnover and retain the best talent in the office.
  • Create a more diverse management team that is more reflective of the diversity of the community— presently over 90% Caucasian — and ensure that any firms who receive outsourcing work from the office are equally diverse

ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY

The criminal justice system doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Conditions in our neighborhoods are directly related to the likelihood of ending up in the system. As such, the State’s Attorney needs to be proactive in reaching out to communities across Cook County to create a two-way conversation between residents and the office and help reduce crime.

What Kim will do:

  • Form strategic partnerships with entities inside and outside the criminal justice system, including schools, social service providers, mental health care providers, and faith leaders, to reduce prosecution and increase community support
  • Work with the Chicago Police Department and other police forces to revitalize community policing
  • Implement cultural competency training and bring front-line attorneys into high-risk communities to ensure a two-way dialogue between neighborhoods and the office

ENDING COURT BACKLOGS

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to a speedy trial. Sadly, in Cook County, many people accused of crimes are deprived of that right because of the tremendous backlog of cases languishing in the system. The system need to be overhauled, to re-prioritize the way the office handles cases, drastically reducing the backlog to save taxpayers money and protect the rights of the accused.

What Kim will do:

  • Streamline felony review by increasing review staff and changing felony review shifts from two 12-hour shifts to three 8-hour shifts to improve efficiency
  • End frivolous prosecutions of non-violent drug offenses to clear time in the courts and allow staff to focus on more serious cases
  • Invest in technology that expedites the exchange of evidence and other documents needed for trial

PROTECTING VICTIMS AND FAMILIES

Being a victim of crime is a traumatic experience for an individual and the victim’s family and loved ones. Sadly, in Cook County, that trauma is too often compounded by confusion and uncertainty, as the State’s Attorney’s office is uncommunicative and obstinate. The office should instead be transparent, forthcoming, and compassionate, supporting victims and ensuring them the fairest and most expedient journey through the criminal justice system.

What Kim will do:

  • Ensure open communication and responsiveness to victims and their families about the state of their case
  • Increase oversight and accountability to reduce wrongful convictions, a process which can re-traumatize families by providing them a false sense of closure
  • Advocate for speedier trial dates, curtailing the prolonged agony of waiting for a loved one’s case to come to court

SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES

Times are harder than ever for working families. The cost of living is going up, tuition is more expensive than ever, taxes, fines and fees are on the rise, and yet wages have stagnated, hours are down, and our neighborhoods don’t feel safe. The State’s Attorney’s office can play an important role in providing protections for working families against abuses by employers and those who seek to exploit those who are vulnerable, including undocumented residents.

What Kim will do:

  • Aggressively pursue cases of wage theft and other workplace abuses·
  • Crack down on those who unlawfully pollute our air, water, and environment
  • Stand up to the gun lobby and demand strict new safety standards for firearms and penalties for irresponsible gun manufacturers.

Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney.

All-In For Hillary Clinton

I am looking forward to March 15, 2016. That’s the day I am going to go outside in my home state of Illinois, head to my polling place, and vote for Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States. Here’s why I’m going to do that:

  • Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person on either side of this race
  • She has served our country for decades, with distinction and competence
  • Her priorities match mine— national security, infrastructurecriminal justice reform. The more I read from her, the more I like
  • Hillary Clinton is a transformational figure of our time. There’s something kind of awesome about replacing the first African-American president with the first woman president
  • I still believe in hope, I still believe in a welcoming, strong, tolerant, and contemplative nation, and I want Hillary Clinton to lead it

Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, is a fine American. I share his interest helping poor people, but I don’t like his remedies, which I find to be a jumble of unrealistic rhetoric about rich people. His plan for a single-payer healthcare system is nothing I want anything to do with. Obamacare is one of the greatest victories for the people in recent decades. Turning our collective attention to changing-slash-destroying it at this time makes zero sense to me.

So to me, a vote for Hillary Clinton is both a positive expression, connoting progress and joy, and a protective expression, indicating a rejection of Sanders’ misplaced priorities and the unchained hatred on the Republican side.

It’s an easy choice to make: All-in for Hillary.