Thursday, February 14, 2019

Despite lip service, ZERO violent juveniles had their cases transferred to adult court last year, county records show

Despite a second consecutive year of rampant carjackings and nearly 600 homicides in Chicago last year, the Cook County State’s Attorney did not attempt to get any violent juvenile offenders tried in adult court during 2018, according to records secured by CWBChicago via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The city has been fighting widespread carjackings for more than two years, and Chicago police have identified unpunished juveniles who re-offend as being a driving force behind vehicular hijackings and street robberies.

Politicians and prosecutors are quick to point out that juveniles could be referred to adult courts for some violent felonies. But county records show that threat is rarely, if ever, realized.

The State’s Attorney’s records show that the office sought to move 15 juvenile cases to adult court in 2017. Only one case was approved. Prosecutors withdrew four of the requests, nine were denied, and one remains pending, according to the records.

In 2016, prosecutors tried to transfer eight juvenile cases to adult court. One was granted, two were denied, and five continue to be listed as “pending” in official records.

All three of then-State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s requests to transfer were denied in 2015. In 2014, two requests were made. One was turned down, the other was withdrawn by prosecutors.

Back again

One example of a rebounding juvenile: In June 2017, a 12-year-old and two 17-year-olds were charged with felony attempted first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and unlawful use of a weapon after they allegedly opened fire on Chicago police officers who were trying to pull them over because they were driving a car that had been taken in a carjacking.

Sound serious, right? Hardly.

The 12-year-old (who is now 14) and one of the 17-year-olds (who’s now 19) were arrested on Jan. 17th after Chicago police saw them riding in a vehicle that had allegedly been taken in a carjacking. They both had guns, police said.

The nineteen-year-old, Antjuan  Davis, was allegedly driving the car when police curbed it last month in suburban Bellwood. He bailed out of the car, threw a gun under the vehicle, and ran, according to court records. Police caught him nearby. He is charged with felony receiving-possessing a stolen motor vehicle; felony fleeing police, felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a person under age 21; and multiple traffic violations. Judge David Navarro ordered him held without bail.

The fourteen-year-old, who was responsible for firing the shots at police in the 2017 case, is now charged in juvenile court with criminal trespass to a vehicle, unlawful use of a weapon and possessing a firearm with a defaced serial number.

A third man who was in the back seat of the carjacked Buick, 19-year-old Jaquali Brown, is charged with criminal trespass to a vehicle. Judge Navarro released him on a recognizance bond.

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Ald. Michele Smith | Twitter
There may be some good news coming, at least for residents of the 18th (Near North) Police District, which includes River North, the Mag Mile, and the southern end of Lincoln Park.

Alderman Michele Smith (43) recently ran into Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx at an event and the alderman took the opportunity to talk about repeat offenders, especially juveniles, according to a staff member in Smith’s office.

The result of that conversation is “a breakthrough in our police district’s relationship with the State’s Attorney that should lower crime in our Ward,” Smith told constituents in a recent email.

Under a new arrangement, the 18th District commander will have direct access to the first deputy state’s attorney responsible for the downtown area, Smith’s staffer said.

The commander will be able to discuss offender histories in greater detail, explain arrestees’ history in the community, and share information about previous offenses, according to Smith.

The commander-prosecutor arrangement is “common on the South and West Sides,” Smith’s staffer said. But Near North is the first North Side police district to roll out the arrangement, he said.

“Our issues with repeat offenders have stymied efforts to improve public safety,” Smith said. “With a more responsive State's Attorney, we are hopeful progress will be made.”
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