Blagojevich is wrong to criticize criminal justice reforms

It’s a dangerous idea to take away someone’s presumed innocence, and with it their life as they know it, based on statistics.

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Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich hugs Melinda Abdallah, mother of Jacob Abdallah, who was shot in Little Village on Nov. 10, 2019 and later died on Nov. 15, during a press conference at Daley Plaza on Aug. 5, 2022, where surviving families of murder victims expressed their frustrations over the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office for unsolved investigations

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich hugs the mother of a murder victim at an Aug. 5 press conference at Daley Plaza, held by families who are frustrated with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office for unsolved murder investigations.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a disbarred former prosecutor who was convicted of public corruption, resurfaced recently with his cynical clown show in a confused attempt to criticize Kim Foxx’s reform work as Cook County state’s attorney.

Blagojevich proved why he got a “C” in constitutional law. The Sun-Times quoted Blagojevich as saying, “I understand there’s a chance [suspects] may be innocent, the law says they are presumed innocent. But the statistics tell us that in most cases, they’re guilty.”

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t say there’s a chance a person accused of a crime may be innocent. It says they are innocent until proven guilty. 

It’s a dangerous idea to take away someone’s presumed innocence, and with it their life as they know it, based on statistics. Cook County is already known as the false confession capital of the United States. Between 2017 and 2021, nearly 40% of people facing felony charges in Cook County ultimately had their cases dismissed or were found not guilty.

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Recently, eight people were exonerated after being forced into false confessions by former detective Reynaldo Guevara, bringing the total number exonerated to over 50. This follows just months after another large mass exoneration in relation to the misconduct and corruption of former Sgt. Ronald Watts; in all, 212 men were exonerated. Chicago has a long history of police misconduct and torture, including the victims of the infamous former Cmdr. Jon Burge, who was found guilty of federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for the torture ring he led; 125 of his victims have now also been exonerated.

Ignoring that history by doubling down on the failed policies of mass incarceration makes all of us less safe. Blagojevich’s fiction ignores the fact that Cook County’s efforts to reform the pretrial legal system have been largely successful. Our state is taking those reforms further with the Pretrial Fairness Act to ensure that facts, not finances, determine pretrial freedom. This crucial reform ensures that no one loses their home or job simply because they cannot afford bond.

Instead of denying people their rights, let’s focus on getting communities impacted by gun violence the resources needed to stay safe: quality schools, public mental health clinics and affordable housing. 

Camiella D. Williams, adult advisor, GoodKids MadCity
Member, Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice

Save the Amazon rainforest

We were taught in grade school back in the ’60s that deforestation of the Amazon rainforest would signal the end of humanity. The government there (Brazil) demanded the world pay them for rainforest preservation. The world politicos laughed and refused and now we are realizing the affects of Amazon deforestation.

The Amazon rainforest is also known as the “lungs of the world,” and we have basically already removed one lung.

Stop worrying about fossil fuel before you address the Amazon rainforest, or fossil fuels will be the least of our problems. Stop destroying the biggest creator of breathable air on earth, or we die.

Plain, simple and proven scientific facts. Electric cars do nothing if they are relying on our power plants.

Mike Zaczek, Orland Park

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