Battleground Chi-raq: Taming Chicago’s Rising Murder Rate

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The murder rate in Chicago passed the 500 mark on Labor Day weekend 2016 and continues. It is a city where the epidemic of violence is obvious and tragedies keep mounting with no solution on the horizon.

Among those killed in the last several weeks was Nykea Aldridge, a cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade, who was pushing a stroller home from registering her children at school when a stray bullet hit her in the head.

"Chicago certainly has a history of violence, but what's been happening in recent years is chilling," says Oliver Harris, a former criminal defense attorney in Chicago and one-time city council member in Evanston, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.

More recently, Harris put his knowledge of the city's crime and corruption to use in his novel "JoJo" which uses Chicago as its backdrop.

Chicago's murder rate peaked in the early to mid-1990s when in some years there were more than 900 murders. The murder rate then began to drop, but the decline stalled in the last 10 years and this year it's on the rise again.

The city is on pace to top 600 murders for the first time since 2003, the Washington Post recently reported.

"There are a lot of problems in Chicago, gang violence being a major one," Harris says. "It's time for the local, state and federal governments to all work together to try to solve this problem."

Harris says there are several ways Chicago could address the crisis, including:

• Copy what worked in other cities. In the 1990s, Richmond, Va., was concerned with a rising rate of firearm violence. Out of that concern authorities developed Project Exile in 1997. That plan changed the way convicted felons found in possession of a firearm were prosecuted. The prosecution was shifted from state to federal court, where there was a mandatory minimum sentence of four years.

Within a couple of years, Richmond saw a dramatic drop in its murder rate, the New York Times reported at the time. Harris says Chicago should consider its own version of Project Exile. "If you get sent up the river and are off the streets for four years, that can be a lot of people you don't shoot if you are a hardened criminal," Harris says.


• Use RICO to break up violent gangs.  Most of the murders on the southside of Chicago are the result of gang violence, i.e., turf wars, and violence over the drug trade. There are believed to be approximately 125 Street Gangs in Chicago with up to 20,000 white, black, and Hispanic members, most being armed and dangerous. In the 1970s a federal act known as RICO – for Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations – was instituted.

With this law, various federal law enforcement agencies took down a host of criminal organizations in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Chicago Mob, the various New York Mobs, the "Teflon Don," John Gotti, and finally, the notorious Chicago Street Gang, the Blackstone Rangers, a/k/a The Black P. Stone Nation, a/k/a El Rukn, who presided over a reign of terror in the city for 20 years.

Federal RICO remains on the books, and can be used against every street gang in Chicago, but requires the cooperation of the president and the Department of Justice, which has not been forthcoming. The State of Illinois also has a RICO act enlarging the federal version, but its use has been sporadic against gangs, it has been the subject of a recall petition, and it sunsets in 2017.

"Use of the legal devices already available could go a long way toward curtailing Chicago's gun violence," Harris says. "Authorities need to start making use of them because the situation appears to only be getting worse."

About Oliver Harris

Oliver Harris, author of the legal thriller "JoJo", has spent 45 years as a trial lawyer, prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He has worked in both Chicago and in Palm Beach County, Florida. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Chicago and his law degree is from the Indiana University School of Law.

Image courtesy of CNN and used with permission.

Haute Tease

  • KYPRIS Introduces Mini Beauty Elixirs - For Fun, Travel or a Quick On-The-Go Splash

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    KYPRIS, the luxurious line of holistic, high performance skin care boasting organic, wild-crafted, and sustainable grown ingredients for gorgeous results and an ecstatic experience of your unique Beauty, introduces mini versions of its award-winning and critically-acclaimed Beauty Elixirs. 

     
  • Kerridge’s Bar & Grill Opens On September 10, 2018 At Corinthia Hotel London

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Corinthia Hotel London is proud to announce that renowned Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, will open his first London restaurant, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, at the hotel on Monday, September 10, 2018, with reservation lines now open. 

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama Announces Immigration Reform; Economic Analysis; Ebola Update; Afghan Blast

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama addressed the nation this week outlining an Immigration reform package concentrating on areas of a very complex issue that tackles both pre and post entry illegal's, and effectively stopping, for millions, the threat of deportation.

     
  • Start the Grilling Season with Cooking In Everyday English: The ABC's of Great Flavor at Home

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Cooking In Everyday English: The ABC’s of Great Flavor at Home written by, celebrity chef and restaurateur, Todd English is the promised land for the home schooled, harnessing your inner chef, culinary challenged gourmet. 

     
  • Beltway Insider: U.S. Russia Collide on Ukraine; Boston Bomber News; Education Gifts Top 1B; Gas Tax Hike Possible

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama issued a strong warning against Soviet acts of aggression in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's move to violate the "territorial sovereignty" of the politically distressed Ukraine.

     
  • The Beguiled Review – Shocking, Stunning, An Early Oscar Favorite

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Beguiled, from American Zoetrope and Focus Features, presents the final days of the Civil War and the breakdown as solid truths and commitments become clouded by the presence of a wounded Union soldier who electrifies the home.

     
  • Ariel Castro Accepts Plea Deal; Sentencing Hearing Scheduled

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who held three women captive in his East side residence for over a decade, has accepted a plea deal arrangement sentencing him to life in prison plus 1000 years. 

     
  • Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, Announces Retirement

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer has announced his intention to retire from the tech giant founded by Bill Gates sometime over the next twelve months. A search committee is seeking a successor.

     
  • Gift Guide: Great Gifts and Gets for Foodies

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    If you’re looking for gift ideas for a food and drink-centric friend, co-worker or loved one, you’re in luck as I’ve cooked up a tasty assortment of items that’ll make your holiday shopping a snap. This season offers a veritable cornucopia of clever, inventive and downright delectable products like these sure to satisfy the gift giver and receiver, alike.  

  • Eddie V’s San Diego Review – Culinary Forward Seafood

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "America's Finest City" just got a little tastier with the opening of Eddie V's San Diego location, adjacent to the waterfront Seaport Village dining and shopping complex, now serving delicious appetizing deep sea delights guaranteed to satisfy even the most sophisticated palette.

     
  • Making Montgomery Clift Review - A Reveling Documentary Filled with Hollywood Secrets, Lies and Truth

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Making Montgomery Clift, from The Film Collaborative, brings to the screen the story of Montgomery Clift the 1950's Hollywood matinee idol, one of the new leading men who showed strength and weakness, with a hidden tragic secret.

     
  • The Trip to Italy Review - A Five Star Michelin Rated Experience

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "The Trip to Italy," from IFC Films, BBC Films and Revolution Films, brings to the screen the perfect summer vacation adventure for those of us who can't indulge in an all expenses five star paid vacation through Italy.

 

Login Form