Sheriff Dart confused about ‘unjust incarceration’
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A Sun-Times story on Tuesday, “Dart backs 5-year expiration on warrants”, reports that a bill pending in the Illinois Legislature, supported by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, would put a five-year limit on future unexecuted arrest warrants issued by judges.
Dart’s chief of policy, Cara Smith, claims that old unexecuted warrants are “a subset of unjust incarceration” when finally executed, resulting in some offenders being held in Cook County Jail until the matter is resolved by a judge, and that the legislation “would provide some accountability for those who issue warrants.”
“Unjust incarceration” for an offender who flouts the system by, for example, failing to appear in court or obey the conditions of probation? Such offenders have placed themselves in jeopardy of being arrested on an outstanding warrant.
As to providing “accountability for those who issue warrants,” Smith apparently is referring to judges, since they the ones who issue warrants. Making judges “accountable” for issuing warrants for the arrest of offenders? What does Smith have in mind? Stopping judges from issuing valid warrants? It is the duty of law enforcement officers, not judges, to execute arrest warrants.
The sheriff’s office should do the job of running the Cook County Jail instead of playing word games (“unjust incarceration”) and impugning the judiciary.
Dennis M. Dohm
Retired Circuit Judge
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