Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

President Obama’s Recent Report on Prison Reform

News brief: by Mary C. Piemonte

“Our nation is being robbed of men and women who could be workers and taxpayers, could be more actively involved in their children’s lives, could be role models, could be community leaders, and right now they’re locked up for a non-violent offense.” All because, “our criminal justice system isn’t as smart as it should be” according to President Barack Obama in remarks he made in his address at the NAACP’s 106th national convention on July 14, 2015.

And the he added that “mass incarceration makes our entire country worse off, and we need to do something about it.

Listen to his full remarks in this White House video of him “outlining the unfairness in much of our criminal justice system, and highlighting ideas of reform, the reasons why we need to reform America’s criminal justice system, and why we need to invest in our communities and expand opportunity for all Americans while keeping Americans safe and secure.”

Click here for the President’s full written remarks.

President Obama Commutes More Prison Sentences for Low-level Drug Offenders

News brief: by Mary C. Piemonte

In his continuing effort of granting clemency to nonviolent drug offenders President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 men and women, “nearly all of whom would have already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today,” according to his press release on July 13, 2015.

In a White House video released that day, Obama said that as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and criminal defense attorney, he is”well acquainted with how federal sentencing practices” have created in too many instances“unduly harsh sentences” that have lead nonviolent drug offenders to spend decades, if not life, in prison.

And he added that “many people are justly punished for causing harm and perpetuating violence in our communities. But, in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense.”

These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the President said he is “committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system.”

 

New Police Reform Legislation Awaits Governor Rauner’s Approval

News brief: by Mary C. Piemonte

Rep. Elgie Sims (D - Chicago), joined by members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus discusses the recently passed body camera and police reform legislation

Rep. Elgie Sims (D – Chicago), joined by members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus discusses the recently passed body camera and police reform legislation. Photo courtesy of Rep. Sims

In an attempt to restore the broken trust of communities of color against police officers in the state of Illinois, Rep. Elgie R. Sims Jr (D-Chicago) recently spear-headed some legislation that will update policing regulations to avoid more tragedies. 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.”

Continue reading