Crime

  • Tom Cullerton works to add greater protections in Illinois’ stalking law

    gps stalkingSPRINGFIELD- In 2016, roughly 6.6 million people were stalking in the United States according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

    State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is pushing for Senate Bill 623 which would expand Illinois’ stalking laws to include stalkers who use technological means such as phone tracking applications to pursue their victims.

    “Your phone should be a tool to help you feel safe, not make you more vulnerable to potential stalkers,” Cullerton said. “We live in an age where we take our phones everywhere. If a stalker has access to tracking applications on a victim’s cellphone it will accelerate dangerous behavior.”

    The Department of Justice reports that 1 in 13 victims were stalked through the use of GPS technology and other forms of electronic monitoring.  With the advancement of technology there is a potential for this figure to dramatically increase.

    “It’s important for us to put protections in place to protect victims from technological advances,” Cullerton said.

    Senate Bill 623 will declare the use of technology as placing a person under surveillance for the purpose of stalking which is a criminal offense.

    Senate Bill 623 is currently in the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law.  Cullerton is also the sponsor of House Bill 3251 which is similar to his initiative.

  • Bertino-Tarrant: Money seized from drug crimes should be put to good use

    jbt050216SPRINGFIELD— A proposal to take money from drug-related crimes and put it to good use in the community became law on Friday.

    State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

    Under the new law, money taken from drug-related crimes may be used for public education programs in schools and in the community. These programs will focus on preventing students and others from abusing drugs and alcohol.

  • Harmon law allows Cook County drug field tests

    harmon pawnshopSPRINGFIELD – In 2010, Cook County released more than 5,000 defendants accused of drug-related crimes after determining there was no probable cause for their arrests. Many had been sitting in Cook County jail for more than 25 days awaiting their probable cause hearing. Each day these men and women sat in jail cost county taxpayers $143 – or more than $3,000 for a 25-day stay. It cost them and their families even more from lost time at work and the anguish of having a loved one in jail. Many of these offenders came from low-income families that could not afford to post bail.

    Why? Because law enforcement agencies in Cook County send recovered substances to the State Crime Lab to determine whether they are in fact drugs, which takes weeks. Police in every other county use a simple field drug test that costs little more than $1, which could have dramatically reduced the cost to Cook County and the suffering of these people and their families.

    The plan championed by Harmon creates a pilot program in Chicago to perform field drug tests for marijuana, cocaine and heroin. If it is successful, the field testing program could be expanded to the whole county. Establishing field drug testing in Cook County could also reduce pressure on the state crime lab, which currently analyzes all suspected drugs from the state’s most populous area.

    “Cook County deserves the opportunity to save taxpayer money and reduce prison crowding,” said State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the measure’s sponsor. “This program works in every other county in Illinois. I have high hopes that it will work here, cutting costs and reducing unnecessary jail time.”

    The legislation is House Bill 356. It takes effect immediately.