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Chicago Public Defender Protests Police Gun Website

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The top public defender in Chicago called for the immediate removal of a new Chicago Police Department website that broadcasts gun-related charges, citing what she called inaccurate data and a “blatant intrusion” of defendants’ privacy, the Chicago Tribune reports. “This is another example of police using a list of people who are presumed innocent as a red herring to distract from the real issue of the day: the …failure to arrest the individuals who are shooters and who continue to wreak havoc in Chicago,” said public defender Amy Campanelli. The escalation of a  fight between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle centers on how the justice system treats gun-crime defendants.

Preckwinkle and Chief Judge Timothy Evans have touted changes to the bond court system to keep poor defendants from languishing in jail on minor charges if they cannot afford bail. Lightfoot has joined Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s campaign arguing that the criminal justice system allows too many alleged gun offenders to stay out of jail while awaiting trial. Lightfoot reiterated that criticism after tweets from President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka prompted by the city’s most violent weekend of 2019. Police unveiled the website after a weekend with 55 people shot, seven fatally. Campanelli said she was “deeply troubled” by the “Gun Offender Dashboard,” which aims to document who is arrested on suspicion of gun crimes and whether they posted a full cash bond, 10 percent of that amount or were released without posting money. Campanelli argued the site misstates the types of available bonds. “This website uses the vague term ‘gun offenders’ to create a false narrative of what’s truly occurring,” she said. “Let’s set the record straight — the term ‘gun offender’ also includes anyone who illegally possesses — and doesn’t shoot — a gun for his or her own protection.”

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