Yes, Chicago, Kim Foxx is Lax on Crime
It is in the small things the rot starts
Under the normal terms of Chicago politics, even a Progressive prosecutor would be alarmed at the torrent of criticism in the past year, but not Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Ms. Foxx, of course, has “data” and other ample supporting evidence to demonstrate her prescriptions for combatting crime are paying dividends.
Though the worst of the year is far from over, through the end of June alone, the City of Chicago suffered 354 homicides and another 1,515 injured by gunfire. July, however, saw the tempo of society-shattering violence overwhelming Chicago rapidly accelerate. By month’s end, July’s crime soared and according to statistics compiled by HeyJackass, 110 persons have been murdered and another 517 wounded. A surge from a June total of 84 homicides, Chicago buzzing with crime like an overturned beehive impelled Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41) to propose the “Chicago Criminal Accountability Ordinance.” Describing Ms. Foxx as a “public defender” who refuses to answer the call to arms in the fight against crime, under Napolitano’s proposed bill, city hearing officers would be authorized to penalize crimes which include: Illegal firearm possession, graffiti, looting, and mob action or wilding. For each offense committed, a fine would be assessed or the offender would face a possible term behind bars.
While some may be tempted to dismiss Alderman Napolitano’s ordinance as a cynical stunt, Foxx responded to the 41st Ward alderman with rage and abuse. A woman who has little tolerance for criticism, Foxx released a statement rebuking Napolitano, and attempted to brand the alderman a racist and leading a Right-wing fear campaign:
"Phrases like ‘wilding’ are dog whistles that perpetuate racist attitudes and behavior in our criminal justice system. To be honest, I am not surprised by his language or motivation — as this is the same elected official who protested alongside the FOP and QAnon at my office nearly two years ago."
"As State’s Attorney I am focused on violent crime. Meanwhile, the alderman is focusing on low-level offenses. If the alderman was truly serious about addressing crime, he would follow the data from our most recent study. None of the policies he is recommending support this data."
A farrago of miff and huff, Foxx’s statement continued to cite “data,” which Foxx insisted supports her obvious yet unstated belief bail reform and her office’s stance declining to prosecute low-level felonies or directing some offenders to diversion programs are triumphs of policy. Days after predictably but falsely damning Alderman Napolitano as a racist and in bed with racists, white supremacists, and crank conspiracists, Foxx attempted to defend her record as Cook County prosecutor. Taking on Fox News directly, Foxx’s salutation to the cable giant was a thinly veiled broadside at Chicago Police, declaring: “It’s easy to catch people who are addicted to drugs. It’s much harder to catch people who pull triggers.” A woman who finds it difficult to admit her faults in public, when asked if she is a “lax prosecutor,” Foxx, with barely concealed discomfort, defiantly replied: “Absolutely not.” A response as ludicrous as you think it is, Foxx added with mild annoyance her concern over how media outlets influence the public on the issue of violent crime, yet tend to fail at fully informing the public over the cooperation between her office and both Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago Police. Finally, when asked if a court backlog created by COVID-19 could hamper prosecution of over 35,000 felonies, Foxx shrugged off concerns her prosecution model encourages criminal behavior, stating: “We have to be able to prosecute people who are causing physical harm, disrupting communities, and death.”
Kim Foxx is not just simply lax on crime, she is Chicago’s greatest criminal enabler.
Let’s start any such discussion on Ms. Foxx by recognizing Chicago’s nine-circles-of-hell odyssey began far before Foxx assumed office and she is not wholly responsible for the rise in crime rates over the past two years. However, it is simply not believable when she says she is not a lax prosecutor. Almost immediately upon becoming Cook County prosecutor, Foxx shoved Chicago deeper into a hole by gradually expanding the power the office ceded her by raising the felony threshold for retail theft from $300 to $1,000. Hidden in Foxx’s edict was a ridiculous proviso insisting all theft charges remain a misdemeanor unless the alleged shoplifter had ten prior felony convictions. A move which resulted in a startling rise in retail theft which besieges store owners across Chicago to this day, the bonanza in theft which followed Foxx’s arbitrary diktat triggered howling from retail store owners and roused the concern of two organizations representing retail interests, the Chicago Loop Alliance and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
Foxx did not limit her negligence to the charging of crimes. In addition to demanding even more lenience for minor offenders, Foxx’s start to her tenure in office had a dangerous bend: It included dropping charges against men convicted of heinous crimes. In two instances, Ms. Foxx was instrumental in freeing three men who were accused of unspeakable crimes. One year after assuming office, in December 2017, Foxx dismissed charges against Nevest Coleman for the obscene 1994 rape and murder of Antwinica Bridgeman. A reversal of Anita Alvarez’s unyielding stance Coleman and his co-defendant, Darryl Fulton, were guilty of the odious crime, the principles on which Foxx released Coleman were Coleman’s despairing pleas from behind bars, media pressure, and a DNA sample recovered from Bridgeman’s undergarments. Though the DNA sample retrieved did not conclusively exclude Coleman from the crime, Foxx nevertheless freed him from imprisonment.
Forging ahead weeks later to achieve her warped brand of justice, Foxx, again, declined to pursue charges in the case against Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes for the double murder of Mariano and Jacinta Soto in 1998. A crime so sadistic it verged on an atrocity, both the Sotos suffered multiple stab wounds during the home invasion. Though a co-defendant, Adriana Mejia, confessed her role in the crime, Foxx dismissed the case against the men after both Solache and Reyes claimed they had been beaten, brutalized, and intimidated during interviews with police investigators. Although no newfound exculpatory evidence was ever furnished to establish Solache’s or Reyes’ innocence, Foxx declining to prosecute the pair was predicated entirely on the discredited testimony of the detective who investigated the crime. After Foxx dropped the case against the two men, then-First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman publicly declared Solache and Reyes were guilty of the offense:
“There is no doubt in my mind, or the mind of anyone who has worked on this case, that Mr. Solache and Mr. Reyes are guilty of these crimes. It is a tragic day for justice in Cook County.”
In another retreat from authentic justice, the most recent of many, Foxx announced in February her office would no longer render judgments in front of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. A break from a tradition long regarded as the law extending beyond the courtroom, the removal of this thoughtful bulwark reduces a sense of security and protection to victims and victims’ families.
Though Chicago did experience drops in some classes of crime between Foxx entering office and 2019, Foxx’s personal renown began to fade sharply in 2020. A year in which Chicago was ravaged by COVID-19, it was Foxx’s response to the social unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis which she revealed herself an anathema to justice. As Chicago was enveloped by a maelstrom of rioting and looting in May and June 2020 which left countless retail stores stripped bare and business owners wandering, dazed, through the rubble, Foxx’s office was confronted with thousands of cases of individuals charged with, amongst other crimes, disorderly conduct, public demonstration, and unlawful gathering. Foxx’s office also was confronted with more serious allegations of resisting arrest, mob action, and aggravated battery to a police officer. As order was being restored, Foxx appeared with Governor J.B. Pritzker at a Day of Action on Chicago’s West Side. Commenting on a week of pandemonium in Chicago, Foxx appeared to condone some criminal behavior as the activity of the forever needy only collecting what they were unable to afford in their own neighborhoods. Later, when responding to charges related to the rage and rioting, Foxx told the Sun-Times the prosecution of such offenses was not a good use of her office’s “time and resources." Though Foxx did prosecute some cases, police attempting to curb violence were further frustrated by Foxx instructing prosecutors to decline pursuing charges for more serious offenses unless police body or dash cam video demonstrated the criminal behavior was “intentional or malicious in nature.”
Weeks later, in early August 2020, a justified police shooting in the Englewood neighborhood provoked yet another incident of criminality and looting, once again in the heart of Chicago’s retail district. Mobilized by deceitful rumors circulating on social media, looters armed with the tools to ravage descended on Magnificent Mile stores. A honeypot which, in ordinary times, bustles with residents and tourists who come for its elegant shops, fine dining, and night life, for the second time in two months the city’s posh stores were poached of retail merchandise. Though footage of the lawlessness which took place on the Magnificent Mile and on Oak Street substantiated the charge it was a calculated, criminal act, and Mayor Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown urged Foxx to prosecute for “pure criminality, Foxx, in a finger wag, demanded critics not conflate “peaceful protests” with lawlessness and eventually dropped some charges against those involved in the August 9-10 looting. A decision which exposed Ms. Foxx to be governed by pious Progressive fantasy not strategic reality or the law, evidently, through Foxx’s rose-tinted glasses, an entire summer of chaos in Chicago was just a giddy display of First Amendment rights and Hermès Birkin handbags now count alongside food as needed common comforts for survival.
Foxx’s decision to drop a substantial number of charges against offenders in the wave of looting and protest-related violence which engulfed Chicago in 2020 was a preposterous mistake. Nevertheless, mistakes are sort of a habit of Ms. Foxx, and nowhere have her errors been made more plain than her 2019 decision to disassemble the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Narcotics Unit. While Foxx would have us believe drug crime is limited to police dragging helpless addicts or petty drug dealers off the streets, Assistant State’s Attorneys (ASAs) and police say drug crime has turned some of Chicago’s neighborhoods into searing cauldrons of violence. Constant clashes in which gangs have turned apartment complexes, playgrounds, parks, and street corners into battlefields, competition in Chicago’s drug trade often leads to armed confrontations. Every battle is a fight for supremacy. According to police and ASAs, a nasty feature of drug crime is the ambushing of dealers under the guise of a legitimate attempt to procure drugs. Carried out by youth drawn into the brutal glamor of gang life, these incidents are prevalent in high-crime neighborhoods and often lead to bloody, bludgeoning encounters between numerous members of competing gangs ready to do battle. These ambushes or straight-up robberies committed by armed offenders are what is producing spiraling casualties and has turned some neighborhoods on the South and West Sides into dismal enclaves of shattered buildings, desperation, and squalor.
Though police and ASAs remain motivated to prosecute drug-related crime, both claim Ms. Foxx’s decision to shutter the Narcotics Bureau has crippled effectiveness fighting the fundamental causation of violence in Chicago. For police particularly, Foxx resolving to fold the Narcotics Bureau virtually decriminalizes drugs and eliminates police probable cause to investigate criminality in neighborhoods known for widespread drug activity. Drugs and guns, most of which are illegally owned, are intertwined. Once considered a gateway to more serious crime, the elimination of drugs as an offense prohibits police from gleaning information from small-time drug suspects, which often leads police to remorseless murderers, illegal guns, drug kingpins who play a considerable role in violence, and other criminals sought by the law.
A gesture with terrible consequences for the law-abiding in high-crime communities, by ending drug prosecution Foxx has nurtured the drug trade and all the violence associated with drug crime. A subsidy to criminals, as these neighborhoods convulse with crime, and both illegal guns and drugs flow freely, law-abiding residents are left to the mercy of gangs and are exposed to some of the most frightening violence blighting Chicago. Moreover, though Foxx’s determination to divert addicts into treatment programs is laudable, Foxx has overlooked the fact many addicts were criminals and delinquents prior to becoming addicted and often commit property crimes such as retail theft or burglary to support their habit. Crimes with victims, the victims deserve redress, and the crimes deserve punishment.
For a woman who serves as chief prosecutor in a city which has suffered 485 homicides through August 7, Kim Foxx must find it burdensome to fully explain how her policies are a smashing success. Though Ms. Foxx has labored to articulate how her prosecution model is either positive or has uplifted Cook County residents, the backstop Foxx has repeatedly used to sustain her insistence her cherished reform measures are improving the quality of life in Chicago is “data.” While Foxx tends to be vague when referencing “data,” it is fair to speculate Cook County’s startlingly incompetent prosecutor is placing blind faith in two studies, both of which revolve around the failed experiment with bail reform. Both are deeply blemished studies. Commissioned in 2017 by Judge Timothy Evans, Chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, the first examination of the impact of General Order No. 18.8A (G.O. 18.8A). An examination of bail reform and conditions for pre-trial release, in Evans’ 2019 analysis, the judge concluded “the increase in pretrial release has not led to an increase in crime.”
Though Judge Evans congratulated himself on a job well done and his Bail Reform in Cook County An Examination of General Order 18.8A and Bail in Felony Cases was applauded by Progressive reformers, when audited by reporters with the Chicago Tribune, Evans’ report was exposed as so incomplete, it amounted to blatant fraud. According to the Tribune’s David Jackson, Todd Lighly, and Gary Marx, Evans’ inquiry into bail reform excluded numerous violent incidents – domestic battery, assault, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, armed violence and reckless homicide, for example – and hid the fact a whopping 21 offenders released under new pre-trial conditions had been charged with homicide. Evans’ report had claimed only three were charged with homicide. The Tribune exposé also uncovered the fact Evan’s study relied heavily on sketchy court records and, worse, data entry rife with error. While Evans’ claimed a victory for bail reform, his study should have been dismissed out of hand after questions over data checks and data cleaning processes were laid bare. If Chicago learned anything from Evans’ study, it is a jurist has the power to remove inconvenient data and unwanted observations to deceive the public.
Not long after Evans’ tainted analysis on bail reform was issued, a second study examining G.O. 18.8A, was published by two academics with Loyola University. Titled “Dollars and Sense in Cook County: Examining the impact of General Order 18.8A on felony bond court decisions, pretrial release, and crime, authors Don Stemen and David E. Olson concluded no “statistically significant change” occurred regarding defendants on bail facing new criminal charges. An incautious dodge, Stemen’s and Olson’s language and conclusion cloaked a contribution to rise in violent crime from those on released under bail reform. A question of semantics, though Stemen and Olson concluded bail reform did not lead to a “statistically significant change” a total of approximately 260 additional violent crimes were committed under Chicago’s bail reform.
While those 260 violent crimes committed by individuals released under Cook County’s new bail procedures may not be “statistically significant” to the academics who conducted the review of bail reform, 260 residents of Cook County were victims of crimes which would have never taken place if the accused had been remanded. A deeply misleading conclusion, Loyola University’s study of bail reform did not measure worker productivity or student achievement in the classroom. In contrast, it examined whether bail reform led to a rise in crime and the language in the conclusion was just a creative way to avoid confronting criticism of the outcome. Perhaps Messrs. Stemen and Olson should interview the victims of those 260 crimes and determine of its victims are convinced they are not “statistically significant.”
Though both studies were presented as unerring renderings of the facts, the two together are grotesquely slanted and imbued with numerous failings. While Ms. Foxx is keenly aware of the flaws in both reports, she warmly embraced both and has refused to retreat from supporting the failed policy. Nevertheless, if you are Kim Foxx and two attempts to vindicate a valued reform measure have collapsed under the weight of its own fictions and Chicago’s media is throwing the spotlight on Foxx dismissing charges felony cases at 35-times the rate of her predecessor, messaging can be fraught. In an incident mentioned by our colleagues, SCC, in late July, Foxx, attempted to squelch the panic surrounding the steep rise in crime by hosting an elaborate virtual session to explain how what data her office collects, how her office is reaching solutions, and how the public grasps her office’s work. A presentation titled Reporter 101, Foxx spoke briefly and then turned to Chief Data & Technology Officer at Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Matt Saniie, who, for 55 minutes, attempted to put a happy spin on Chicago’s miserable crime statistics. For those with a strong stomach and a sober mind, it is difficult to not take away from this performance Saniie is not so much a wizard with statistics as much as he is propagandist paid to create a compelling counternarrative to maintain the illusion Foxx’s policies are unrivaled successes. A poor saleswoman of a product few want, in Kim Foxx’s worldview, if the public is catching on to her failures, the solution is not to change course, but to create a propaganda engine in her own office dedicated to crafting confusing or intentionally misleading disinformation.
From voters Foxx received a high and sacrosanct trust. Yet she has surrendered the trust.
The basic mission for which a prosecutor exists is conscientiously probe, litigate, and dispose of criminal charges against the accused. This responsibility should be carried out in the interest of justice and with due regard for fairness and the rights of the accused and the victims. If accomplished reliably, crime is prevented and order on the streets is preserved. Foxx’s release of convicted murderers, her the notion of redemption for all criminals, the pursuit of failed policies, and the removal of leverage police have over crime is creating a permanent class of repeat offenders. Worse, it is causing more unnecessary suffering on Chicago's streets.
Now into her second term, an examination of Ms. Foxx’s record on the prosecution of crime reveals a glowing endorsement of criminal activity. A woman who vowed to lead Cook County into a new era of objectivity and fairness in the prosecution of crime, Foxx has been exposed to measure her success in office only by how few criminal offenders are charged, prosecuted or incarcerated. Although Foxx portrays herself as guided by the highest motives, she has failed to recognize leniency and decriminalizing whole categories of crime only emboldens criminals. Moreover, Foxx has never understood the prosecution of crime of any category sends a powerful socializing, civilizing message to both offenders and the public at large. That Foxx does not manage her office consistent with its intent is an abandonment of the responsibilities of her office and an assault on both the law and custom.
Kim Foxx’s ship is not righting itself. The fault for its ill-fated trajectory belongs with its captain.
Note to Ms. Foxx: A lawmaker leveling criticism at you for your questionable or irresponsible actions in office is not racism. A portion of your job, however unenviable, is to answer for your public conduct and your policy positions.