Every Monday, it seems, there is a new headline reading "Dozens Murdered over the Weekend." We wrote one of those ourselves, thinking Memorial Day weekend was particularly bad.
It turns out it wasn't. The whole year has been bad. The 2012 homicide rate has spiked 60 percent over last year, reports the Chicago Tribune, and Redeye Chicago tallies 50 homicides in May alone. Obviously, something more is going on than one bad weekend.
Police Superintendant Garry McCarthy told CBS Chicago that patience was necessary, stating it's "not going to be solved overnight." This was in response to last weekend, where 8 more were murdered and 40 were wounded.
While patience is necessary, the department may now have a tool in their repertoire that could accelerate the process, according to the Illinois Government News Network. Many of the murders and shootings are blamed on gang violence, and a new law will allow the police to treat these gangs as criminal organizations rather than individuals.
Instead of going after foot-soldiers, authorities are now going after the entire organization, from the bottom to the top.
The new legislation, the Illinois Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law, is modeled after federal RICO statutes which allow organized crime leaders to be prosecuted for racketeering if certain predicate offenses by the organization can be proven.
Some of the predicate offenses include kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, prostitution, stalking, robbery, discharge of a machine gun, terrorism, a litany of cannabis offenses, and other drug manufacturing and distribution charges.
Under the federal RICO law, two predicates must be proven before RICO can kick in. When it does, however, it carries a much stiffer penalty. The Illinois version will carry a penalty of 7-30 years imprisonment.
- Find a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Livery Cab Sex Trafficking; RICO a Possibility? (FindLaw's New York Criminal Law Blog)
- Is It the Weather?: Chicago Homicides Up 60 Percent (FindLaw's Chicago Criminal Law Blog)
- Racketeering (FindLaw's LawBrain)