Chicago police likely receive many false police reports yearly. These reports receive virtually no publicity and are quickly resolved and forgotten.
Not so with Jussie Smollett’s hate crime hoax reported to police on Jan. 29, 2019. As an alleged hate crime reported by a public figure, Chicago police swung into action. Dozens of detectives spent several thousand hours investigating the alleged crime. Smollett’s claim quickly fell apart and he himself became the suspect in a crime: lying to police.
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More man-hours and expenses were used in the case against him. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision not to prosecute set off a firestorm of public anger that resulted in a special prosecutor to undo what smacked of prosecutorial malfeasance. Thousands more hours and dollars were spent in dispensing justice: Smollett’s conviction on five of six counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police.
Smollett’s crime was nonviolent, at least in the literal sense. But the damage to our police and criminal justice system in wasted resources was immense. The damage to the public was worse. Likely, some violent crimes were not prevented and some violent criminals were not apprehended due to these lost resources.
As bad as Smollett’s crime was, he should not waste further resources sitting in prison. While probation of some form appears likely, Smollett could begin to redeem himself by admitting his guilt and agreeing to pay the cost of this sorrowful squandering of the public treasure. The first step costs nothing except personal courage and decency. With an estimated net worth of $500,000, the second step is affordable.
Come on, Jussie. Be like Nike… “Just Do It.”
Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn
Let’s not forget our veterans in need
This year’s defense spending bill is about to be passed with bipartisan support by both chambers of congress. At a whopping $768 billion it is much larger than the combined budgets of Russia and China.
Yet thousands, if not millions, of veterans are barely surviving on food giveaways and substandard health care at government facilities.
At this time of the year, when we are hit with overwhelming requests for charitable donations, we might also consider the needs of our equally deserving veterans.
Bob Ory, Elgin