Criminal justice advocates praise Kim Foxx for fewer drug, theft prosecutions

The number of black and Latino people sent to prison monthly was down over 30% last year compared with 2012.

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Sarah Staudt, center, a senior policy analyst and staff attorney at the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers, discusses a new report on Cook County prosecutions Wednesday.

Sarah Staudt, center, a senior policy analyst and staff attorney at the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers, discusses a new report on Cook County prosecutions Wednesday.

Sam Charles/Sun-Times

A group of criminal justice advocacy organizations unveiled a new report Wednesday that heaped praise on Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s administration for its policies that have resulted in far fewer black and Latino people being sent to prison.

“We know that mass incarceration over the past four decades has fallen primarily on the backs of black and Latinx communities,” said Sarah Staudt, a senior policy analyst and staff attorney at the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers. “What our report today shows is that that situation is getting better in Cook County and continues to get better as Kim Foxx stays in office.”

The report used four metrics —sentences of incarceration, felony theft prosecutions, felony review rejections and felony drug charges dropped before arraignment —to compare the effects of Foxx’s policies with those of former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. The report focused on the years 2012 — when Alvarez was in office — and 2019 because the two had similar crime rates.

On average, 1,063 black and Latino people were sent to prison every month in 2012 after prosecutions by the Alvarez administration. In 2019, the average was down to 706, according to the report.

“We’ve seen some of the biggest changes in the ways that drug cases and retail theft cases are being treated,” Staudt said.

The sharp decline “has partially resulted from the state’s attorney’s office moving away from a culture that rewards mass incarceration to one that values rehabilitation and outcomes rooted in justice,” the report concluded.

Foxx is facing reelection this year and has sought to highlight her office’s restorative justice practices, though she has been dogged by her handling of the now-infamous Jussie Smollett case.

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