Is Chicago's Top Prosecutor Going Soft On Violent Crime?

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx continues to push back against criticism that her office is going light on violent offenders, accusing Mayor Lori Lightfoot of unfairly bashing her office for not filing charges in a shootout between alleged gang members last week. Foxx says the mayor doesn’t have all of the details in the case, and she contends that there simply wasn’t enough evidence to charge anyone in the shootings.

Personally, I don’t think that argument stands up to scrutiny, given that at least some of the shots fired were captured on dashcam video by the first officers to arrive on scene. But more importantly, it’s not like this is the only case that Foxx’s office has handled that raises questions about the criminal justice system in Cook County. We’ve regularly reported over the past few months on the number of violent offenders who’ve been released on low or no bonds, only to be arrested for more crimes of violence while they’re waiting for their original day in court.

The website CWB Chicago does a great job of keeping track of some of these offenders, including the troubling history of Sam Jones, who’s now facing multiple carjacking charges in Cook County.

A man who was only charged with a misdemeanor when cops allegedly caught him driving a carjacked vehicle in August is back in custody after police allegedly caught him driving another hijacked car in the Gold Coast over the weekend.

Sam M. Jones, 25, was on parole for multiple felonies and on bond for manufacture-delivery heroin at the time of both of those arrests, prosecutors said.

Around 6:15 p.m. Saturday, CPD license plate readers detected a hijacked vehicle traveling on Lake Shore Drive near Lakeview, according to a police report. Officers went to the area, spotted the car, and tried to pull it over.

The driver sped away, collided with two other cars on the Oak Street S-curve, and crashed, the report said. Cops arrested Jones at the scene. The vehicle he allegedly drove was taken in a carjacking on September 16, Assistant State’s Attorney Darryl Auguste said.

Jones is charged with possessing a stolen motor vehicle, driving without a license, and other traffic-related offenses. Auguste said the carjacking remains under investigation.

Two months ago, on August 6th, Jones was arrested for driving a vehicle that had been carjacked a day earlier. According to CWB Chicago, Jones was taken into custody but released a short time later on a recognizance bond after being charged only with a misdemeanor.

He also has a pending felony narcotics case stemming from an arrest in May — less than a month after he was paroled for multiple felonies, including heroin distribution, according to state records. Prosecutors, who charged Jones with manufacture-delivery and felony possession of a controlled substance during a May 14 bond hearing, said Jones sold heroin to an undercover cop and also had heroin in his possession when officers arrested him.

“Mr. Jones, playing with fire,” Judge Susana Ortiz warned during the May hearing. “You’re on parole here, picking up new serious offenses. Don’t give them an excuse to take you back in, sir.”

She then released him on a recognizance bond and told him to stay in the house from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., court records show. State authorities did not try to revoke Jones’ parole after the arrest.

Note that last line. Why did Foxx’s office not seek to revoke Jones’ parole, given the fact that he’d been warned by a judge that he could face serious consequences if he faced any more charges?

There are a lot of issues with the criminal justice system in Cook County, and Kim Foxx isn’t responsible for all of them. She is, however, in charge of the prosecutors in the county, and it’s abundantly clear that keeping individuals who pose a danger to the community behind bars while they await trial isn’t a priority for her or her office. Foxx would rather go after gun stores and guns themselves rather than focus on the city’s violent offenders, and the results of that strategy speak for themselves; more crime and fewer consequences for the perpetrators.