How to get the worst sentence possible (Hint: Think “War Machine”).

How to get the worst possible sentence… as illustrated by “War Machine”.

“War Machine” seems to be doing everything he can to make sure he’s not only convicted, but locked up for a long, long time. He’s got to be driving his lawyer nuts.  This is a classic case of how just about everything you do can and will affect what happens in court.
Continue reading “How to get the worst sentence possible (Hint: Think “War Machine”).”

Come on, Daily Herald. You can do better.

When I think of local papers who don’t care about actually “reporting” local court news but would rather cut-and-paste from State’s Attorney press releases, I don’t normally think of the Daily Herald.  They’re doing everything they can to change that, though.  When catching up on my local crime news today, I first came across this article about a man in Geneva who, the paper says, admit to some fairly serious sex crimes and underage porn charges:

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[span6]The Daily Herald article:[/span6]
[span6]The Kane County Prosecutor’s press release:[/span6]
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Continue reading “Come on, Daily Herald. You can do better.”

Sex Offenders Impress McHenry County Sheriff.

Ok, maybe I made that up.  It seems like a reasonable inference, though.  Why else would the McHenry County Sherrif’s Department be issuing press releases and posting them to the web page.

Earlier today, Nygren’s office issued the following:

PRESS RELEASE- SEX OFFENDER COMPLIANCE CHECK

11/21/2013 12:00:00 AM

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office announced today the completion of a recent sex offender compliance operation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office and the United States Marshal Service. The week long operation was conducted to ensure that all registered sex offenders were compliant with the statutory requirements. A total of 80 compliance checks were conducted during this operation.

Illinois State law only requires annual checks; however, Sheriff’s Office investigators conduct bi-annual verifications to make sure that registered sex offenders are providing accurate home addresses, as well as employer and vehicle information. It is a violation of the Illinois Registered Sex Offender Law to not report any change in address or employment.

The sex offender compliance operation started November 19, 2013 and continued through November 21, 2013. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is committed to ensuring that all registered sex offenders remain in compliance with state law.

“If a member of the public becomes aware of a violation, they are encouraged to call our office at 815-338-2144 or call Crimestoppers at 1-800-762-STOP”, stated Undersheriff Andrew Zinke.  “All of the registered sex offenders were found to be in compliance”.

I thought that sex offenders are always out lurking in the shadows while plotting, scheming and trying to re-offend?  That’s what I’ve been lead to believe, anyway- that people on this list are just about the most serious danger as they can’t control themselves and they’re over-run by impulse.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, that’s not quite true.  Their study dealt with the worst of the offenders (the ones who had gone to prison).  It also applied a very lenient definition of “recidivism”.  According to them, recidivism is “measured by criminal acts that resulted in the rearrest, reconviction, or return to prison with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following the prisoner’s release.” (emphasis added).  This, of course means that even innocent people (those merely charged who subsequently were found not guilty or had cases dismissed) were counted as folks who had re-offended!

By that standard, over the 3 years following release from prison there was a recidivism rate of 2.5%

So, McHenry County appears to be home to 80 sex offenders. If the BJS statistics are true you can assume a 2.5% recidivism rate over a 3 year span, right?

Wrong.  First, you’d have to assume that all 80 were among the “worst of the worst” and had gone to prison.  If that were true, you could assume 2.5% would be charged with a new sex offense every 3 years. That math works out to 2 people. 2. Two. T-w-o.  Less than one per year.  And since it didn’t even matter in that study if they were actually guilty, the number of sex offenders actually re-committing sex crimes is lower than that assumed figure.

Even with those assumptions the math comes out to… a lower risk to re-offend than just about any crime anywhere, including speeding, DUI, underage possession of alcohol, and dealing drugs.

I’m not saying that any sex offense is a good thing.  I’m just saying that the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office found that all of the McHenry County Sex Offenders were doing exactly as ordered.  That doesn’t surprise me.  It shouldn’t surprise you, either.

A rash of sex offenses

Anybody who has done criminal defense work knows that cases tend to come in waves.  The phone doesn’t ring for a few days, then BAM!  Three or four new clients will call in a morning.  It’s weird how that works, but that is the way it works.

Probably because arrests come in waves, too.  Noticeably this week, there seems to be a rash of arrests for sex offenses.  A laundromat in Woodstock (pictured above) is noted as the scene of events giving rise to at least one of the arrests.  According to the Northwest Herald in an article titled “Police: Man abused child at Woodstock laundromat”:

Published: Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 2:33 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 11:49 p.m. CDT
WOODSTOCK – A man with a long history of sexual assault made inappropriate contact with a young child at a Woodstock laundromat, police say.
[A man whose name I’ve redacted from] Woodstock, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony. [He] allegedly inappropriately touched a child under the age of 13 at a laundromat at 212 Fair St…

The defendant in this one could be facing some fairly serious future repercussions.  According to the article, his

“sexual assault history dates back to when he was 21. In 1992, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail for aggravated criminal sexual assault with force and aggravated criminal sexual abuse with a victim between 13 and 16.
In 1999, he was sentenced to seven years in jail for aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child under the age of 13.
[his] criminal history also includes a felony loitering charge in 2002 and felony violations of his sex offender registry in 2005 and 2011.”

Aside from the fact that his background very well may make him “extended term eligible” (meaning he may be facing much harsher potential penalties because of his criminal past), the state may move to have him commit to a facility in a civil commitment.  While those civil commitments might look like treatment programs when you read about them, for most people they are, in essence, lifetime sentences in a commitment facility.

The Herald is also reporting on a McHenry man charged with various sex offenses.  Of interest in this case is that it seems a “mandated reporter” from a mentoring program notified the police of facts leading to the arrest.  “Mandated reporters” are people who are required, by law, to report to the police suspected child abuse or neglect.  The DCFS web page has a decent overview of who are mandated reporters and what it means to be a mandated reporter.

While not noted on there, lawyers involved in certain juvenile court proceedings may be mandated reporters.  I say may because it’s a little tricky sometimes with lawyers.  There’s that whole Constitution and attorney/client privilege thing that can (but rarely does, really) make it more complex.

The criminals in McHenry County are always getting off easy…

I’m always amused to read the internet comments about the McHenry County Justice system.  Many of them think nobody gets harsh sentences.  Like, the judges in Woodstock are just letting people go “for the hell-of-it.”

Today a defendant took a deal for 45 years.  I know what you’re thinking, too- the dumb prisons are probably going to give him all sorts of “good time” and let him out early.  Nobody ever does all the time they’re sentenced too.  Not on cases in Woodstock, anyway.

The prevailing idea that prisons just open the doors and let people out whenever they want is the most ignorant belief people can have about the system.  Nearly any defense attorney, prosecutor, or judge in the courtroom knows exactly how long a sentence will be.  At a minimum, anyway (the that “good time” guys can get off is designed to keep them on their best behavior in the Big House… the prisons can always lengthen the time to it’s maximum sentence).

So, in this particular case the defendant got 45 years on a bunch of different counts.  Turns out, 42 of them are at 85% and 3 of them are at 50% (to be served consecutively).  So, that’s 35.7 years (42 times .85) and 1.5 years (3 times .5) for a total of 37.2 years of actual time spent.  There are also one (depending on current politics) or two more blocks of good time he can get for a total minimum time of 36.7 years (most likely 36.95, though).

If you don’t like that math, don’t blame the courts or prisons, though. Blame yourself. Your elected leaders formulated that system several years back.  If you want it to be 100%, elect the people who will pass that law… and also figure out how to fund the added burden.

Anyhow, people think nobody in McHenry County gets tough sentences.  That defendant is 39 years old.  He will be about 76 years old before the Department of Corrections can even think about letting him out.  That’s older than the average life expectancy for a male in this country.  The average life expectancy for a male in prison is lower, too. A lot lower.

If you’re going to get hung up on numbers and quibble that defendant only got 45 years for his crimes and that’s not “enough years,”  I suppose you could argue his sentence could have been more severe.  If you look at the practicalities and do the math, though, the guy very well got a life sentence.

Tell me how everybody in  McHenry County gets off easy, again?