131 episodes

This is our Chicago Justice Podcast that covers crime, violence, and justice issues in Chicago. We will feature deep dives in to justice system data, interview with researchers and justice system reform advocates, as well as evaluations of justice system practices.

Chicago Justice Podcast Tracy Siska

    • Business
    • 4.3 • 3 Ratings

This is our Chicago Justice Podcast that covers crime, violence, and justice issues in Chicago. We will feature deep dives in to justice system data, interview with researchers and justice system reform advocates, as well as evaluations of justice system practices.

    Time to Remove Guns from People Suspected of DV?

    Time to Remove Guns from People Suspected of DV?

    We open season four with a discussion of Karina’s bill, which hopes to formalize a process for the courts & police departments throughout Illinois to seize guns from individuals who have an order of protection entered against them.

    Our guest today is Danielle Parisi Ruffatto, Managing Director of the Family Law and Protective Orders Division at Ascend Justice. We discuss the horrific murder of Karina Gonzales & her daughter Daniela Alvarez at the hands of Karina’s husband, Jose Alvarez, who had been ordered to stay away from the home.

    The protector order Karina received from the court revokes a person’s FOID card, but the court and police do not have a formal process for ensuring that officers remove the gun when they are serving the order of protection. Karina’s bill will formalize this process while empowering judges to approve search warrants when entering the protective order to allow officers to search homes & retrieve weapons if necessary.

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    • 40 min
    Trying to Erase History is Purposeful

    Trying to Erase History is Purposeful

    On today’s show, we discuss the connection between racialized policing in the US and the efforts by the right-wing to erase slavery from America’s history. We discuss this with Joseph Flynn, the Executive Director for Equity and Inclusion in the Division of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at Northern Illinois University.

    The efforts to rewrite American history are an attempt to prevent Americans from realizing the connection between slavery, Jim Crow laws, the civil rights struggle in the mid-20th century, and policing in communities of color today. Absent this context, it could seem ridiculous for anyone to conclude that the justice system is and has been systemically racist.

    The right-wing wants everyone to think that the murders of George Floyd and Laquan McDonald are unrelated events. That the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse for his crimes had nothing to do with the fact that America has, since its founding, feared black men and justified just about any action taken by white men against the bodies and lives of black men if the white man was “scared.” The verdict can easily be accepted if you view it from the lens of white supremacy that dictates that black men are nothing more than urban predators who cannot control their most primal urges.

    We also discuss the epidemic of fear surrounding ethnic studies programs at universities across the country. This fear has been driven by America’s growing underbelly of unsophisticated and fearful residents seeking someone to blame for the struggles in their lives. This makes them ripe for manipulation by the right-wing media machine and politicians who seek to benefit themselves at the expense of their supporters. This wedge serves to empower right-wing elites while simultaneously not only hurting communities of color but also putting the lives and bodies of people of color on the line.

    Dr. Joseph Flynn's Perspectives on WNIU - Northern Public Radio can be found here.

    • 52 min
    ACLU on CPD Traffic Stop Lawsuit

    ACLU on CPD Traffic Stop Lawsuit

    On today's episode, we feature an interview with Alexandra Block from the ACLU of Illinois about their lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department's highly questionable traffic stop practices. The ACLU alleges that the CPD pulls people over exclusively to search them and their care for drugs and guns. According to their statistics, the CPD's rate of finding guns, drugs, or cause to arrest the person they have pulled over is about 1%.

    In 2020 the Cook County State's Attorney's Office documented a significant switch in tactics by the CPD from pursuing gun offenders, those who have committed a violent crime with a weapon, to seek those who possess an unregistered gun. In the ACLU lawsuit, they allege that in 2016 the CPD made another switch in tactics from doing large numbers of stops of pedestrians in communities of color to making car stops in never before seen numbers in those same communities. The ACLU calls this just another version of stop and frisk. When combining these two critical data points, it is evident that CPD officials made a concerted effort to change how they fight gun violence and where and how they search for unregistered guns.

    We also discussed with Alexandra that within a lawsuit filed by a former officer, internal emails were exposed showing high-ranking officers within the department pushing middle management to increase their traffic stop numbers. The emails reveal the pushing of unconstitutional CPD quotas designed to get officers on the street to increase significantly the number of pretextual stops they make. As the ACLU data shows, about 1 in 100 stops results in gun, drugs, or cause for arrest being found. Oddly enough, they also don't result in a ticket being written. Significant proof that traffic safety is not a purpose for the stops.

    • 34 min
    Mismanagement & Abuse at JTDC

    Mismanagement & Abuse at JTDC

    Today's episode discusses the long history of abuse and mismanagement at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) with Injustice Watch reporters Kelly Garcia and Carlos Ballesteros.

    The JTDC has long been a dumping ground for clouted workers in Cook County government who were too incompetent for any other job in the county. This, combined with a seeming refusal of half of those running the facility to see their role as anything less than jailers, has led to a point where over the last decade, report after report has come out on the facility and their treatment of the youth in the facility. Despite these multiple reports of the horrible conditions within the facility, those in charge of running the facility seem unwilling and incapable of making the required changes.

    The JTDC is under the authority of Cook County Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans. One of the reports trashing the facility came from a committee he put together, and still, no significant change has come to the JTDC.

    We will discuss these issues and discuss Injustice Watch's reporting on the JTDC with Kelly and Carlos.

    • 41 min
    CPD Doesn’t Take Lying Seriously

    CPD Doesn’t Take Lying Seriously

    Despite promises to the contrary by the Chicago Police Department and the agencies that make up the police accountability system in Chicago, lying while undertaking your official duties as an officer isn't taken all that seriously.

    The CPD's rule 14 bars any officer from knowingly submitting a written or oral false report. In other words, they are not supposed to lie. A recent report issued by the Chicago Inspector General's office details how the CPD and the police accountability system are utterly inconsistent in how they respond to officers lying in their official duties. While all the agencies talk publicly about the importance of integrity and truthfulness, they are not taking violations of rule 14 anywhere as seriously as they want people to believe they are.

    The integrity of the CPD and the police accountability system is vital to building trust between communities and the CPD. Despite this reality, the Office of Inspector General's Public Safety section continues to churn out report after report demonstrating how little attention the agencies pay toward accountability.

    Today's episode discusses these issues with Chicago's Inspector General Deborah Witzburg.

    • 35 min
    Kareem Butler – Truth About Electronic Monitoring

    Kareem Butler – Truth About Electronic Monitoring

    On today's show we attempt to bring facts and science to the discuss around the Pre-Trail Fairness Act (PTFA) and the state of electronic monitoring (EM) in the Cook County criminal justice system. We were honored to sit down with Kareem Butler, a pretrial justice fellow at the Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts, to discuss these vital issues.

    The hyperbolic response to bail reform in Cook County and the subsequent passage of the PTFA by the Illinois General Assembly having nothing to do with the reality of what the efforts mean for communities throughout the state but are all about an ideology that cannot come to terms with the need for the justice system to treat every equitably. The response is also often based in deep hatred and fundamental distrust of the poor. This is why those bothered by both efforts are so upset that the poor can spend their pre-trial time out on the street just like those with the same charges but with the money to bond themselves out of jail.

    Butler demonstrates a deep understanding of the issue and is able to highlight the hypocrisy in the responses to these efforts. Also, Butler is very good at bringing the data to back up his perspective. This is a fundamentally opposite position of the alt right in Chicago whose don't need any evidence to support their beliefs. It is clear what Butler and his organization is advocating for is evidence based decision making in pre-trial assessment of the risk a potential defendant poses and for a system where there is not two different pre-trial detention policies for the rich and the poor.

    Butler also provides insight in to just how in true Cook County disorganized fashion the EM systems have two masters. One being the Cook County Sheriff's Office headed by political animal Tom Dart and the other being Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans. Neither office has a reputation being a really well run office free from political influence in their decisions. This should scare anyone that is concerned about the appropriateness of how these two EM systems are administered.

    • 45 min

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