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Reducing violence by reducing some penalties?

Monday, Jul 21, 2014

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

A brazen afternoon armed robbery of passengers on an Orange Line el train. A hundred people shot in a week. Thirty people shot in 13 hours.

Can part of the answer really be to lower some state criminal penalties?

Yep, and the reasons are pretty simple.

Read the rest and then discuss. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


58 Comments
  1. - William j Kelly - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:18 am:

    Sadly the pendulum must swing to the left before it can swing to the right then swing to the left then swing to the right then swing to ………


  2. - Motambe - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:18 am:

    I am curious about the level of police presence on the streets of Chicago. How do the police department staff levels compare per capita to New York City, for example. I seem to recall that the Daley administration reduced the number of police officer positions in Chicago, and that another large number of positions go unfunded and unfilled. Is that accurate? And compared to New York City, how many, or what percentage of district officers, actually walk a beat in their assigned area? Or do the large majority ride in patrol cars?
    Sadly, policing and punishment are the last and worst resolutions. The first priorities should be jobs, education, and family stability.


  3. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:19 am:

    Brilliant! The next time we meet, Rich, I may hug you.

    You’ve been warned.

    – MrJM


  4. - Huh? - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:19 am:

    You are making a counter - intuitive argument. I can see reducing non - violent offenses as the trade off for increasing the penalties for violent offenders.


  5. - Hon. John Fritchey - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:22 am:

    Rich, great column (meant to send you a note about it yesterday). The answers, in part, rest on getting smart on crime + punishment, not just tough on them. People need to look no further than Cook County to see the staggering social and economic costs of our present system.

    There’s a certain irony that a lot of the momentum on this issue is coming from the right but the fact that there are both moral + economic rationales for this solution may serve as the impetus for it finding support across the political spectrum. Time will tell…


  6. - RonOglesby - Now in TX - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:23 am:

    we lock up people for a bunch of reasons that make little to no sense.

    Prison is a place that should be used to house people that are too dangerous to be around the rest of society. Right now its the punishment for anything and everything. And if it isnt working pols only answer is… MORE PRISON!

    of course there is also criminal code that enforces ridiculous laws. or criminalize objects vs actions. time to make a change. But too many small minded folks (both voters and pols) cant see that as they are busy with their favorite TV show.


  7. - Timmeh - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:35 am:

    Last Week Tonight did a pretty good segment on incarceration last night as well.


  8. - Apocolypse Now - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:37 am:

    Decriminalizing Marijuana usage would be a good start. Not sure what that would do the jail population, but it would have to free up police, courts, and jails.


  9. - William j Kelly - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:43 am:

    The sad thing about 1) not knowing anything about history 2) not learning anything about history or 3) not caring about the overwhelming lessons of history is every couple of years ideas like this seem really really smart.


  10. - Judgment Day (on the road) - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:45 am:

    “we lock up people for a bunch of reasons that make little to no sense.

    Prison is a place that should be used to house people that are too dangerous to be around the rest of society. Right now its the punishment for anything and everything. And if it isnt working pols only answer is… MORE PRISON!”
    ——————–

    +1

    And then if you do toss someone in prison, the road back after release is incredibly difficult.

    And the overall CJ System is dying from all the paperwork. The current System is a ‘heart attack’ waiting to happen - almost all of our ‘arteries’ within the criminal justice system are experiencing blockages and we have to change the System - and this means reduce the load - at the front end of the process. Think of it as a much needed lifestyle change.

    Great column. Hopefully there will be more, because this is going to be a long tough fight.


  11. - John Howard Association - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    This is a really insightful piece. Thanks, Rich.

    I think the history of prison policy has a lot to teach us about the potential pitfalls of policymaking. The trend of increasing prison penalties and offenses that required prison time began in the late 1970s. This marked a radical break with history of our use of prisons, which led Illinois to increase its prison population from around 6,000 in mid 1970s to almost 49,000 today. While policymakers at that time were responding to a real uptick in crime, assuming that prison sentences would more effectively deter people from committing crimes, it’s clear they weren’t thinking about the potential longterm consequences of their actions or testing their assumptions about deterrence.

    Check this bit of history out: I was doing some research on IDOC’s budget and found this from its FY1974 budget proposal: “The fiscal year 1974 budget recommendations will permit the beginning of several new initiatives made possible through funds from declining institutional populations. A continued decline is anticipated and will create room for more innovative programs.”

    In other words, just as Illinois (like most states in the country) was beginning to create the policy foundations for the perpetually overcrowded prison system that we’re saddled with today, policymakers were anticipating a smaller, less expensive, and more effective prison system. Forty years later, I think in many ways we’re trying to find our way back to that system–to incapacitate the people we should be scared of and offer effective alternatives to the offenders were mad at.


  12. - FormerParatrooper - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    It has never made sense to me to place nonviolent criminals in prison with violent criminals. Prison should be a place for those who have shown a propensity to commit violence against society.

    Great article Mr. Rich.


  13. - D owntown C ommando - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:55 am:

    =- MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:19 am:

    Brilliant! The next time we meet, Rich, I may hug you.

    You’ve been warned.

    – MrJM=

    It may be time to write a column about criminalizing unwanted hugging. As a male of Irish Catholic descent I hate that. Hugging should only be allowed to keep us upright when inebriated.

    This rash of hugging must be stopped. Where is Lisa Madigan? Where is Anita Alvarez? I can just picture Alvarez on 60 Minutes.


  14. - Loop Lady - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    IMHO, there needs to be a more cops riding the CTA…it used to be that the panhandlers were annoying, now they’re more threatening when you decline…the armed robbery on the Orange line in broad daylight could be the beginning of a new trend…lessen the penalties by making a life of crime and gang banging less attractive than the alternative…


  15. - SAP - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    Although Governor Quinn botched it last time out, I’d say it’s time to revisit early release for first-time, non-violent offenders as well.


  16. - oz - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    The AbbVie, Shire Tax Inversion.

    The Walgreen Tax Inversion..

    Good-Bye Illinois tax revenue and jobs.


  17. - Tom Joad - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    “And if it isnt working pols only answer is… MORE PRISON!” We haven’t built a new prison since early in the George Ryan administration.


  18. - DuPage - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    Prison should be primarily for violent offenders, drug dealers, gang leaders, and illegal gun suppliers.
    What happened to the law someone proposed years back? Pull a gun in a crime=10 years. Fire the gun=20 years. Hit somebody=30 years.


  19. - Lobo Y Olla - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:16 am:

    I’d say it’s time to revisit early release for first-time, non-violent offenders as well.

    Ms. Saltmarsh testified at committee that there are “very very few 1st time offenders in Illinois Prisons.”


  20. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    I read somewhere or heard that America has one of the world’s highest levels of incarceration. I think that needs to change, and we need to restructure our criminal justice system to focus more on violent offenders.

    I’m glad people are talking about sentencing reform, and the DOJ is trying to do something about mandatory minimum sentences.

    One way to start is to legalize marijuana. I would also like to see other drugs treated differently by the criminal justice system, but marijuana looks like a good place to begin.


  21. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    “Come up with an idea and then let the number-crunchers tell you how much you’ll save.” depends on the idea. Minnesota had a prison time matrix once upon a time, where the sentence given would depend on prison capacity. so the sentence of a rapist,could, and did, vary with capacity. and that was outrageous. so ideas require thinking through the consequences.

    the problem is how to keep the truly violent in, whatever the numbers, whatever the demographics. if they are in, they cannot do violence to the general public. comparisons of prison population to different countries ignores other sad realities of the U.S., especially guns. we may have different problems. but thank god we can arrest and prosecute, unlike some other countries where mobs run rampant and kidnap whole groups of girls. is it better to ignore things so they get that bad?

    and the current attitude towards how to deal with crimes committed by juveniles has a public rhetoric that ignores the real violence committed by some juveniles, sexual assault, heavy bodily harm, even murder. community treatment for juveniles is not the complete answer. first time offense for juveniles, teaching the rule of law, hoping to help them before they turn into hardened criminals is also important.

    physical harm to a person is unacceptable. depriving a person of their liberty is unacceptable. whatever the age, whatever the demographics, whatever the numbers of the offenders. that’s my personal bottom line.


  22. - chicago guy - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    This is spot-on. Did we really feel safer when Martha Stewart was in prison? Violent offenders? I don’t know if prison will reform them or not, but at least they are off the street!


  23. - W.S. Walcott - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    At risk of being the only one not in complete agreement…
    I think here, on this blog, “nonviolent” means someone got busted for weed. I believe, as a first time offender you can posses nearly 18oz of weed and still get a class 4 felony, 1-3 years. Which in many cases would be probationable…
    The truth is 18oz is a lot of weed.
    The truth is there are very few people in IDOC, for possession of marijuana.
    The truth is ~40% of people in IDOC are there for class X felonies or murder.


  24. - Federalist - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    So how many ‘Martha Stewart types” are out there and should be released?

    I don’t know but this issue needs a serious honest examination.

    Like beauty, serious crime may also be in the eye of the beholder. A question to ask yourself, is do you want them as potential next door neighbors?

    If certain levels of crimes would meet that criteria, then they should be released after some basic time. If not!


  25. - Federalist - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    @ W.S Walcott,

    Potentially a good point. What exact source did you get your info?


  26. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    W.S.Walcott, you are not alone. there is a weird perception that the prisons are filled with people who got busted for a joint their first time arrested. just not true. reality, so many people get probation even for crimes against a person.


  27. - bill ryan - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    our prisons are overcrowded and doc overwhelmed, one aspect of overcrowding and costs are elderly in our prisons 20 years ago there were 32 woman and men had reached age 50 (prisoner medical age considered 10 years more than actual age because of poor medical in prison and lifesstyle before prison) and spent at least 25 consecutive years. today there is at least 800. illinois does not track costs by age but nationally costs $75,000 to house elderly. there is no parole so these women and men will stay till die. some are reformed and no risk to anyone,some are very sick and old with medical costs over a billion dollars committed for next decade. not everyone should be released but elderly should at least have a chance to show they can be released after thorough review by doc and prison review board who have final decision.


  28. - DuPage - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    @Grandson of Man10:22=America has one of the world’s highest levels of incarceration.=

    That is sort of correct, however, some of the ones we put in prison, some other countries give the death penalty, or some other barbaric penalty.

    Some countries, a shoplifter gets their hand cut off, but no incarceration.

    China has the death penalty for many offences. Corruption, DEATH PENALTY!

    Car accident, someone killed and it was your fault, DEATH PENALTY.

    People die from tainted cough syrup.
    The investigation shows a wrong label by mistake on a drum of chemical used to make the cough syrup. The CEO of the company is given the DEATH PENELTY.

    Also, they don’t fool around with long appeals. They check to see if they are a donor match. If so, they harvest their organs after execution.
    They have a simple .22 to the back of the head and the relatives are sent a bill for the bullet.


  29. - Chris - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    “So how many ‘Martha Stewart types” are out there and should be released?”

    That are in Illinois state prisons, for committing crimes that Illinois can reduce the punishment for?


  30. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    Our system of mass incarceration isn’t so bad when compared to Iran and China?

    Well, never mind then…

    – MrJM


  31. - Lobo Y Olla - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    I think here, on this blog, “nonviolent” means someone got busted for weed. I believe, as a first time offender you can posses nearly 18oz of weed and still get a class 4 felony, 1-3 years. Which in many cases would be probationable…
    The truth is 18oz is a lot of weed.

    It’s 30 grams for a felony. 18 oz is over a pound.


  32. - DuPage - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    @MrJM11:34=Our system of mass incarceration isn’t so bad when compared to Iran and China?=

    We shouldn’t have the mass incarceration of non-violent offenders. However the numbers comparing the US with other countries can be apples to oranges, and should not be used in our decisions on what to do here.


  33. - Dan Linn - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    There are class X felons serving time in IL for nonviolent cannabis distribution, one inmate has been writing me letters for 8+ years on a 33 year sentence for three convictions. Sending drug dealers to prison doesnt curtail drug dealing it only creates an opening for another dealer to accomodate that demand. While there are not many people in prison for a joint there are plenty of people who are incarcerated for failing a drug test as part of their probation/parole due to smoking a joint.

    Great column Rich, it is about time more people start discussing methods to address the violence and its relation to the schools to prison pipeline.


  34. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    is there some prison by prison “census” per prisoner including offense which led to incarceration and if previous record plus low level offense led to prison.


  35. - Ghost - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    Get rid of prison time for drug use; and sales below x amount.

    Better would be to legalize drugs, take them away from criminals and make them a revenue stream for the starte like alcohol and the numbers (lottery).

    there is such strong stuff available now from a pharmacist, and other available stuff like alcohol, why try to create favored vices. legalize, regualte and tax. clean out prison space and make money. win/win.


  36. - Left Leaner - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Spot on. And I hope the commission puts earnest, common sense proposals forward.

    But can they hold up against the prison industry? There are a lot of companies making a lot of money off the over criminalizing, overcrowding problems. Fewer inmates = less money to companies that deal in profits. For the unions, fewer inmates = reduction in personnel.

    Not trying to be cynical here. Just real. There are lots of people very interested in keeping lots of people locked up regardless of “good policy”.


  37. - Frank G. - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    I agree with Rich’s column and with Zalewski’s approach. We need sentencing reform…softer sentences on drug crimes and increased punishment for gun crimes.

    Also, I like the number crunching aspect of this. But while we’re talking number, let’s not lose sight of the fact that despite all the media hype, the violent crime rate in Chicago is DOWN DRAMATICALLY over the last 20 years. Below is a must read link to a Trib column on the topic that ran this weekend. Maybe, (just “maybe” because I haven’t seen any data,) one of the reasons crime is down is because incarceration is up. That should be part of the discussion.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-oped-crime-in-chicago-improving-chapman-0720-20140720,0,7780739.column


  38. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    “We need sentencing reform…softer sentences on drug crimes”

    Once in a great while I’ll work with lists of incarcerated individuals. Many get prison sentences for drug crimes.

    I agree that we should reform the way society and government deal with drugs. We know that there is no such thing as a panacea, but we can make things better, such as reducing or eliminating the black market, reforming the criminal justice system, offering medical treatment and support services, etc.


  39. - Anon - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 2:25 pm:

    The War on Drugs accounts for the lion’s share of the increased prison population. Republicans voted against medical marijuana for cryin’out loud. They aren”’t ljkely to vote to reduce penalties for drug possesson and sales.


  40. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    === Republicans voted against medical marijuana for cryin’out loud===

    The first bill, yes. The second bill, which also allows access to some children, passed with overwhelming GOP support. That bill was just signed into law.

    Update yourself.


  41. - JS Mill - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 3:04 pm:

    Decriminalizing marijuana would have a profound effect on our prison system nationwide. Other drugs would be a tougher sale to the public unfortunately. These days, the most commonly abused drugs are prescription medication, ask most teenagers and they will tell you it is easier to get prescription narcotics than beer.

    The prison system should focus on our violent offenders and those that are too dangerous to be allowed to roam free like Bernie Madoff.


  42. - W.S. Walcott - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 3:10 pm:

    @ Federalist
    IDOC issues quarterly data. It is readily accessible on their website, in the reports tab.

    @Lobo
    You are right. 30 grams gets you into felony territory. I am also right. 500 grams is treated the same as 30. About 17.6 oz.
    Like I said, it’s a lot of weed.

    @ dan linn
    Typically, people are less forgiving of those who have multiple convictions.

    I would find it very difficult to attach my name to large groups of offenders, whose bad actions after release could come back to haunt me. Ask Michael Randall…


  43. - dan linn - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    @WS Walcott - do you feel class X felonies should apply to drug dealers? Even large drug dealers if they are nonviolent shouldn’t get a charge that is supposed to be reserved for only the most heinous criminals. Today’s pot dealers who deal in pounds will be the Wirtz Beverage Suppliers and Seagrams Distillers of the next generation. . .


  44. - W.S. Walcott - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 4:00 pm:

    Drug dealers that are generally bad actors, yes, I do. Most people who are dealing in large amounts of drugs…
    1. Often times have previous convictions.
    2. Are often gang members, or at, least affiliated.
    3. Tend to have access weapons.
    4. Typically don’t just sell a bag of weed to the 50 something’s who like to space out on occasion.

    While you may like to dabble once in a while, that’s fine. But get out once in awhile. Kids aren’t just getting high on Friday night. Tell parents in Will County heroin dealers are ok. Ask kids how often they are taking MDMA. I suppose increased cartel activity in the states is ok too? Drugs are profitable. Violence protects profits.

    So, if by drugs, you mean pot, then say pot. But if you say pot don’t expect me to believe IDOC is full of guys who had a roach in the ashtray. Can’t have it both ways.


  45. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 4:55 pm:

    “Are often gang members, or at least affiliated.”

    “At least Affiliated”? You mean brown?

    – MrJM


  46. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 4:58 pm:

    @WSWalcott, lol reference to Randall…etc.

    you are spot on with your info.


  47. - W.S. Walcott - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 5:34 pm:

    @MrJM
    In my neighborhood most Catholics are white. Doesn’t mean most Catholics are white. I see white gang members everyday. Broaden you horizons.


  48. - Pacman - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 6:39 pm:

    I have no problem lessening the penalties for Marijuana with the exception of those trafficking the drug. As for the other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, MDMA (ecstasy), Meth and others the penalties should be kept in place. Keep in mind a large percentage of crime from Murder to Petty Theft has a nexus to drugs. The addicts gotta do what they gotta do to support their habit.
    Also legalizing drugs will not eliminate the black market and the street corner dealers and the associated crime that goes with the black market.


  49. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 6:41 pm:

    ===Also legalizing drugs will not eliminate the black market and the street corner dealers and the associated crime that goes with the black market.===

    Yeah, the rum runners are still active all over Chicago. The end of Prohibition didn’t stop anything.


  50. - W.S. Walcott - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 7:29 pm:

    The truth is the black market won’t go away. The rum runners are at every corner tavern. They buy liquor at the local grocery store and pour it in one with they got from a distributor. Not bootlegging per se, but certainly illegal. Same goes for tobacco. Many corner stores still sell loose-y’s if they know you, and truck loads of non-stamped smokes still turn up from time to time. The problem is high (sin) tax products are ripe for black market dealings because the middle man gets the cut the G-Man would take.


  51. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 7:53 pm:

    ===but certainly illegal. ===

    That’s a far cry from the scenario you portrayed earlier, so excuse me if I think you’re full of it.


  52. - dan linn - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:03 pm:

    The drugs that are killing people are dealt by CVS & Walgreens. “In 2011, of the 41,340 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 22,810 (55%) were related to pharmaceuticals” http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html

    MDMA used in a clinical psychotherapeutic setting is being studied to help veterans overcome PTSD http://www.maps.org/research/mdma/

    WS Walcott i get out plenty and am well aware of the problems of drug abuse, but to equate all use as abuse is your misunderstanding. People are not killing each other in Chicago over where to sell caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. The similarities between alcohol prohibition and the war on drugs is pretty clear yet alcohol prohibition lasted only 13 years. Whereas the war on drugs is going on 40+ and has resulted in a tragically larger amount of violence, disrespect for the law and those who enforce it.


  53. - West Side the Best Side - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:07 pm:

    Mr.JM- I can’t and won’t speak for W.S.Walcott, but “affiliated” has nothing to do with race. It has to do with loosely gang connected, whatever the gang is and regardless of race. Don’t be a Preckwinkle and think being against crime means you’re a racist. And dan linn, large scale drug dealers don’t control their corners because they’ve sweet talked other dealers into leaving. But you are right about the future, at least for weed sellers.


  54. - W.S. Walcott - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:53 pm:

    Rich, your views on pot are very clear, to any regular reader of this blog. I’m not confusing use with abuse. I truly respect your insight into Illinois politics. Sure, legalize pot. But the guys hanging on the corner will still be selling other things. I don’t suppose you support legalizing crack, or other “hard drugs?” If your kids can’t play outside because of those guys, then tell me I’m full of it. I suppose one’s views on “drugs” are mostly colored by what they see most often. I spent 3 nights on northerly island this weekend and pot was basically legal. No one was even hiding the fact that they were smoking. No one got shot there this weekend - that I know of. So, if one takes a few tokes while jamming out, great. No harm - no foul. But if guys that always were the same colors, sell drugs 4 doors down from your house, you might not be so dismissive of other peoples opinions.


  55. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 21, 14 @ 9:55 pm:

    My opinion is let Walgreen’s sell it all.


  56. - Pacman - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 6:00 am:

    “Yeah, the rum runners are still active all over Chicago. The end of Prohibition didn’t stop anything.”
    Rich are customers of rum runners shoplifting, doing burglaries, forging checks, murdering their neighbor when caught doing a burglary, or the worst I ever saw; trading their children’s Christmas presents on Christmas eve for crack and then beating his wife when she tried to stop him. I doubt the customers of rum runners would do some of the things I have seen in my L.E. career for a drink.


  57. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 8:39 am:

    nixon should have read his schaffer report


  58. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 8:52 am:

    jimmi carter (dem) ahead of his time wanted to free the weed


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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        * Quinn Sets Special Session..
        * Quinn wants special election in 2016 on Topinka.....
        * Quinn wants 2016 special election for comptroller..
        * Quinn calls legislature back to Springfield to .....
        * Quinn To Call Special Session..
        * Quinn Wants Special Election To Replace Topinka..


        * China pledges to speed entry of US pharmaceuticals
        * Report: Illinois fails to monitor runaway kids
        * Gov. Quinn calls session for comptroller election
        * Chickenpox forces southern Illinois prison lockdown
        * Instructor at Illinois school for visually impaired arrested
        * Chicago announces plans to build 88-story skyscraper
        * GOP says Rauner should appoint next comptroller
        * Quincy mother gets 2 years for unlawful restraint
        * Contract to bring 75 jobs to Scott Air Force Base
        * Illinois jobless rate falls to 6.4 percent

        * Quinn calls legislature back to Springfield to approve special election to replace Topinka
        * Audit: DCFS loses track of runaways
        * Audit: Illinois fails to monitor runaway kids
        * Chicago couple convicted of stealing state grants
        * Topinka remembered as tough, honest leader at memorial service
        * Illinois employers reminded of income-tax rollback
        * Memorial service for Topinka begins in suburban Chicago
        * Police use vacant Jacksonville site to train for worst-case scenarios
        * State-grant fraud case in hands of federal jury
        * Gov.-elect Rauner says some agency directors may stay

        * Great moments in Chicago architecture 2014
        * Restaurant menus shed some weight
        * McDonald's to sponsor 2015 SXSW festival
        * Chicago tourism arm opens fourth bureau in China
        * Dow soars more than 400 points


        * A whole lot of nothing from the City Council
        * Dozens gather at Logan Square eatery for ‘Serial’ podcast finale
        * Sony’s choice on ‘The Interview’ is one lost battle in a long war
        * Playing for dollars, smiles at O’Hare
        * Rewriting the Sony cyberattack script
        * Sony’s choice on ‘The Interview’ is one lost battle in a long war
        * Emanuel denies Willie Wilson petition challenge is racist ploy
        * Ex-FBI agent’s book tells mob tales in ‘A Gun in My Gucci'
        * Off Message: The Year in Review
        * Dem Rep. Bill Foster talking to big donors about U.S. Senate race


        * 5 people hurt in separate shootings
        * Metra train fatally hits pedestrian in Oak Forest
        * Chicago man shot to death in Montgomery
        * Santa helps Catholic school complete fundraising mission
        * Rahm Emanuel defends record on ethics in first term
        * Restaurants that repeatedly failed health inspections in 2014: analysis
        * Second bottlenose dolphin born at Brookfield Zoo
        * 2 found dead in South Side home died in murder-suicide
        * Wisconsin girls in Slenderman case ruled competent to stand trial
        * North Chicago 21-year-old dies after hit and run in Waukegan


        * Parties' Power Grabs In Battle For Comptroller; Quinn Calls Legislators Into Special Session
        * Let's Talk Kids - "Your Phone-a-Friend List"
        * Vatican signals new tone on US nuns
        * StoryCorps: Bilingual pre-school teacher describes the state of education in Chicago
        * Chicago mayor's commission unveils plan for a safer Chicago
        * US announces protections for transgender workers
        * Cook County to join cameras-in-court program
        * IIAA Teaches Life Skills Through Sports
        * Illinois Republican: Cuba Agreement "Good First Step"
        * Unions sue to stop Chicago pension overhaul


        * E.J. Dionne: Chuck Schumer: Take two
        * Esther Cepeda: The rainbow that isn’t
        * Raoul, Righter, Nekritz, Sandack: Clarifying privacy, eavesdropping bill
        * Quote of the day: Friday, Dec. 19, 2014
        * Quinn calls legislature back to Springfield to approve special election to replace Topinka
        * Audit: DCFS loses track of runaways
        * Audit: Illinois fails to monitor runaway kids
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Schmidt considers challenging Sgro for park board president
        * Brian Sauder: Faithful decisions for the holidays
        * Eugene Robinson: The price of being hacked


        * Top of the Morning, Dec. 19, 2014
        * Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile
        * Augustana College restricts access to Yik Yak following racist remarks
        * USPS holiday push includes delivery, collections Sunday
        * Clouds will be regular guest in Q-C through the weekend
        * Clouds will be regular guest in Q-C at least through the weekend
        * Upcoming Services (Dec. 19)
        * Man feels shortchanged over postal regs
        * Police Beat
        * Clinton pastor happy for new approach to Cuba


        * Key Profumo scandal figure Mandy Rice-Davies dies
        * Italy's anti-corruption czar to join Rome bid team
        * Funeral service set for former Decatur mayor
        * American Hockey League
        * Jags' Marks caps 21-13 win over Titans with sack

        * Politics as Usual: Two more lawmakers on C...
        * American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act...
        * Midterm elections see Big Red wins in Ill....
        * Can Congress End the Cuba Embargo? Many Re...
        * Bright Side: Cheri Bustos visits Galesburg...
        * Obama: 'I've got to take responsibility" f...
        * Davis voices support for increased diploma...
        * Democratic Staffer Killed During Louisiana...
        * Congresswoman Promotes Volunteerism at Loc...
        * T’was a Famous Victory: Why? How? and What...

        * Durbin on Cuba Relations...

        * GOP senator wants 'The Interview' shown at......

        * City Clerk Debuts Online Residential Permit Parking Map
        * Expert Writing Service for Students’ Deductive Writing
        * Will Jan. 8 mean anything?
        * Remember "Night After Night"
        * Santa's Taking The L Through Uptown
        * Party With The Pups At Driftwood
        * Santa's Taking The L Through Uptown (Updated)
        * Kinzinger bullish on America and Illinois
        * Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk Promises to Screen 'The Interview' at Fundraisers
        * Quinn calls for special session to push special 2016 comptroller election


        * Governor Quinn Calls Legislative Special Session - Governor Urges Legislature to Set Up 2016 Special Election for Comptroller
        * Governor Quinn Announces Illinois’ Unemployment Rate Hits New Low - Illinois’ Economic Comeback Continues; Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Level in More than Six Years
        * Illinois Ranks #1 in Volunteer Rate Among the Country’s 8 Largest States - 2.57 Million Illinoisans Give $7.2 Billion in Service
        * Law Enforcement, IDOT Make Final Push to Save Lives in 2014, Roadside Safety Checks Planned Over Holidays - New Episode of “The Driving Dead” Premieres Friday as Holiday Travelers are Reminded to Drive Sober and Buckle Up
        * Department of Insurance Announces Two Convictions Resulting from its Workers’ Compensation Fraud Investigations - Former Crystal Lake Police Officer and Former Business Owner Convicted




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