Cook County felony weapon cases up 43 percent in 2017, data shows

SHARE Cook County felony weapon cases up 43 percent in 2017, data shows

Cook County’s Leighton Criminal Court building. | Sun-Times files

Law enforcement brought Cook County prosecutors 43 percent more potential felony weapon cases in 2017 than the previous year, according to a new data report from the Cook County state’s attorney office.

The report released Wednesday covers data accumulated in State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office during 2017. A similar report covering data from 2016 was released in October.

“Our most important conversations around criminal justice – from bond reform to addressing gun violence – require us to make policy choices grounded in data,” Foxx wrote in the report. “Public release of that data is critical to our ability to make credible, legitimate, and thoughtful decisions as prosecutors.”

Among the findings in the new report:

  • Prosecutors saw a 10-percent increase in felony caseload in 2017 compared with 2016. In 2017, the office considered 33,544 potential felony cases.
  • Much of that increase can be attributed to a 43 percent spike in “unlawful use of a weapon” charges, which cover illegal gun or knife use. In 2016, the office considered 3,191 such cases, 2,414 of which originated from the city of Chicago. In 2017, the office considered 4,579 such cases, 3,629 of which originated from the city.
  • The number of felony retail theft cases fell 40 percent countywide — from 3,061 in 2016 to 1,883 in 2017.
  • Fewer people were convicted and sentenced in 2017, but a slightly higher percentage of those people were sent to prison, regardless of race. For convicted black defendants, 58.4 percent were sent to prison last year compared with 57.4 percent the year before. For convicted Latino defendants, 44.7 percent were sent to prison up from 39.3 percent in 2016. For convicted white defendants, 39.7 percent were sent to prison compared with 36.2 percent the year before.

Foxx’s office plans to release the case data behind the report on the Cook County data portal.

Read the report here:

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