Category Archives: Local and State News & Reports

News brief: New Illinois Bill on Marijuana Possession

8947841-joint
by Mary C. Piemonte

Changing tactics in their efforts with the war on drugs in the State of Illinois that will also reduce the overcrowding jail and prison crisis, lawmakers introduced a fairly new bill that prescribes to the decriminalization for possession of small amounts of marijuana resulting in misdemeanors and fines instead of permanent criminal records and long-term incarcerations.

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Skyrocketing Tainted Heroin Overdoses in Chicago

Commentary by Mary C. Piemonte

public domain photo of someone injecting Heroin.

public domain photo of someone injecting Heroin.

The synthetic painkiller Fentanyl, a drug that is prescribed to cancer patients and those suffering from chronic pain, is the  potentially dangerous culprit back on the scene causing havoc and chaos in Chicago, according to city health and fire officials. Continue reading

Cook County Receives MacArthur Grant to Reduce Jail Population

by Mary C. Piemonte

Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle with Judge George Leighton in June 2012. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans (right) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle with Judge George Leighton in June 2012. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Although there is growing attention to the large number of Americans confined in state and federal prisons nationally, much  less attention has been paid to local jails.

A large percentage of the inmate population of both sentenced offenders and pretrial detainees are in jail for nonviolent offenses such as traffic, property, drug or public order violations.

And low-income individuals and communities of color across the nation disproportionately experience the negative consequences of incarceration, according to Cook County public officials in the criminal justice system.

However, Cook County was one of 20 jurisdictions from 45 states selected on May 27, 2015, to receive a $150,000 planning grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “to reduce the number of low level nonviolent offenders incarcerated in the Cook County Jail.”

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Release of Chicago Police Officers’ Misconduct Reports

by Mary C. Piemonte

Poster during a Chicago police protest in

Poster held during a protest outside Chicago Police headquarters in September 2010. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


After seven years of litigation, on July 29, 2014, the City of Chicago provided Jamie Kalven, founder and principal staff member of the Invisible Institute, with a batch of documents on police misconduct that took place between 2001 and 2008.

According to Kalven, the list of misconduct reports involved police officers assigned to “public housing south” and those who participated in any of the Chicago Police Department’s “early intervention” programs. The documents were produced by the city as a result of “Bond v. Utreras” and other lawsuits.

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Chicago Vice Lords Gang Members Charged with “Alleged” Drug Sales

by Mary C. Piemonte U.S Attorney Zachary Fardon talking about Chicago crime during a symposim at Northwestern University Law School in mid February 2014.

Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, talking about Chicago crime during a symposium on the national war on drugs at Northwestern University Law School in mid-February 2014. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Kenneth Shoulders, suspected to be a high-ranking member of the Conservative Vice Lords, was among 26 other gang members of that sect charged last month “for their alleged roles in supplying and distributing heroin and crack cocaine” in the neighborhood just north of Douglas Park on the city’s west side” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The alleged illegal drug activities occurred south of the Interstate 290 Eisenhower Expressway corridor that has been referred to as the “Heroin Highway,” according to the DEA, “because of the accessibility it provides to city and suburban heroin customers.”

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