Foxx focuses on ‘bigger picture’ in first year as state’s attorney

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Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks to the City Club of Chicago at Maggiano’s Banquets, 111 W. Grand Ave., Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx counts the number of people she didn’t send to jail among the signs of progress in her first year as the top prosecutor, highlighting a wave of exonerations and policies that have seen more poor defendants released on bond among her accomplishments since taking over the office.

Foxx reviewed her first year in a speech Monday at the City Club of Chicago, opening with familiar statements about “harrowing” crime statistics and her collaboration with police.

But Foxx spent about half her speech discussing strides the office has made in dealing with the “bigger picture” issues effecting the crime rate.

“My decision to run for state’s attorney came from a deep belief in the power of this office to be a force for public safety and justice, but also from a recognition that too often in our criminal justice system, ‘justice’ has meant prosecuting as many people as possible.'”

Foxx campaigned against embattled incumbent Anita Alvarez on a reform platform, and wound up winning in a landslide as Alvarez was mired in controversy over her handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting case.

Foxx pointed to policy changes, like raising the threshold for bringing felony charges for retail theft from $300 to $1,000, and new protocols for reviewing wrongful conviction cases. She cited a 500-percent increase in referrals to the office’s longstanding Conviction Integrity Unit as proof of the increased credibility of her efforts.

“The criminal justice system is a human endeavor and it’s subject to getting it wrong,” she said. “I think that many people who believed for a long time that there was an unwillingness to right past wrongs, that there is (now) a willingness. I’m encouraged by the fact that they think they will get a fair shake.”

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