Listen to warnings about lax prosecution of juveniles accused of carjackings

There should be concern that our youth are learning that committing serious crimes may not bring serious consequences.

SHARE Listen to warnings about lax prosecution of juveniles accused of carjackings
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks at a press conference announcing updates regarding the multi-district Vehicular Hijacking Task Force in February.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown speaks at a press conference announcing updates regarding the multi-district Vehicular Hijacking Task Force in February.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Richard Barber’s letter to the editor regarding help needed to stop carjackings was insightful. However, helicopter assistance to the police does not address an alarming trend in carjackings.

In February 2018, the Sun-Times reported that most juveniles charged with armed carjackings are let go in 24 hours. Of the 49 youths charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking in 2017 in Cook County Juvenile Court, 29 were released on electronic monitoring. Flash forward to Feb. 16, 2022, when the Sun-Times reported that Chicago Police Supt. David Brown maintained that about half of the carjackers arrested in the first two months of this year were juveniles. He once again blamed the court system for being too willing to release juveniles accused of carjacking.

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On April 5, the Sun-Times reported that CPD statistics reflected that 57% of 72 arrests for carjackings this year were committed by juveniles. The following month, the presiding judge of the Juvenile Justice Division, Michael Toomin, stated that “The State’s Attorney’s Office has been very lenient to these minors that have come in, in the last three years.”

Toomin added: “That’s something we could pay more attention to ... If you’re just getting a pass and sent home ... it doesn’t mean anything to you.”

There should be concern that our youths are learning that serious crimes may not bring serious consequences. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who prosecuted juveniles early in her career, must know that young minds are formed early on with regard to what’s right and what’s wrong. Youths who commit violent crimes and suffer little or no repercussions are learning nothing from the judicial system about core values, personal responsibility, empathy, etc.

Juvenile incarceration should never be the goal. However, if the judge in charge of the Juvenile Justice Division and the superintendent of the CPD express worries about lax prosecution of juveniles accused of violence, we must listen.

Certainly, juveniles must be treated with some compassion, with the focus on rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. Yet, mere slaps on the wrist may give our young people the wrong message about consequences.There must be some deterrence; maybe stringent or extended community service.

Inappropriate leniency toward juvenile offenders not only does a disservice to the community, but provides no rehabilitation and does a disservice to juveniles.

Terry Takash, Western Springs

Shuttered Midway concessions

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Jan H. Donatelli, Loop

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