(CBS) – The decision shocked a bond court judge: Five parolees, charged with associating with gang members, released after Cook County prosecutors dropped the charges.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx tells CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley why she thinks it was the right move to make.
Criminal court Judge Peggy Chiampas is known to be outspoken. So, it was no surprise she spoke her mind, and loudly, in bond court last Saturday when prosecutors dropped parole-violation charges against five defendants with past felonies.
“She asked the prosecutors were they ready and they said they weren’t going forward with the cases, and she said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” says Andrew Holmes, a victim’s advocate who was in court that day.
Holmes says he understands why the judge was upset.
But Foxx says the alleged parole violations were associating with gang members — a charge that’s easy to level but tough to prove.
“We needed to have the evidence to prove they knew they were associating with gang members and we did not believe we could meet that burden,” she tells Blakley.
The men were on parole for offenses ranging from firearms possession to drug possession to domestic battery.
“We want to cut down on gang and gun violence, absolutely, but we also want to make sure we’re going after those and targeting those who are engaging in illicit, illegal activity,” Foxx says.
Foxx says prosecutors haven’t been very successful proving gang association charges in court.
She says she prefers to focus scarce resources on those committing violent crimes, as opposed to enforcing who parolees are hanging with.