Archive for the ‘Local Issues’ Category


It is past due time for staffing of the office. Obviously, it was of no real use without a deputy on duty.

“…Monday, the Rockford City Council OK’d a deal to pay the county $75,000 annually to fund the salary and benefits of a sheriff’s deputy who will be stationed noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Assessment Center housed in the Juvenile Justice Center at 211 S. Court St., the old Federal Courthouse.

Court officials said the presence of a deputy will speed up the process of returning the arresting officer to the streets and releasing juveniles back into the custody of their parents, or lodging them in the Juvenile Detention Center if necessary.

The deputy is described by Jakeway and Juvenile Probation Division supervisor John Papiernick as a vital cog in the assessment process. However, a deputy has been absent from the Assessment Center since September 2015 when the position was cut by Sheriff Gary Caruana because of budget constraints…”

http://www.rrstar.com/news/20170325/winnebago-county-juvenile-assessment-center-soon-to-be-fully-operational

 

 

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No one should have to die just because one is sent away to prison.  Yet, the story below is not new. Not everyone can withstand the mental and physical pressures of imprisonment especially when they are treated little better than warehoused cattle. We routinely see PETA and other animal rights group advertisements in print and on media about the abuse of animals in puppy mills, etc., and we cringe. But we ignore the terrible physical conditions, sensory deprivation and human misery prisoners suffer under in our state and federal prisons and even many of our county jails.

As in this story, the institutional response is most often complete indifference and non-acknowledgement of responsibility. Prisons and jails are run for cost and often operated at the lowest common-demoninator cost. Staffing is often minimal and operations are cheap. Human welfare and concern are not even on the menu.

Read Article: Losing a son in NY prisons

From article:

“…Lonnie Hamilton III entered the state prison system on January 2, 2015, after spending nineteen months in a city jail. He was assigned to a prison in central New York, two hundred and fifty miles from the Bronx, known as Marcy Correctional Facility. By then he was twenty-one. At the beginning of his imprisonment, he called his father often, but as the months passed he became more secluded. By the spring of 2016, Ham had not heard from him in several months. In early May, he began putting together a care package to mail to Lonnie: clothes for the upcoming warm weather, underwear, sneakers, some of his favorite junk food, like Oreos.

Ham went to the prison system’s Web site to find his son’s inmate number. He typed his son’s name into the inmate-lookup section; next to “Latest Release Date,” he saw “03/18/16 deceased.” “I’m, like, that must be wrong,” he recalled. “So I go and start the whole process all over, and it’s coming up ‘deceased.’ My head is swivelling a thousand miles an hour. What the hell is going on? So I call up there, and I’m trying to get answers.” That’s how he found out that “deceased” was not a mistake: Lonnie was dead.

Getting more information proved nearly impossible. “As I’m talking, these people are hot-potatoing the phone to the next person, to the next person,” he told me. He reached a male officer: “He F.U.-ed me, told me to have a nice day, and hung the phone up on me.” At that moment, Ham was riding in his brother’s car. “This threw me into such a rage, I damn near jumped out the car,” he said. His brother told him about an app that records telephone calls, and he started using it as he called around the prison.

Eventually, he reached Deputy Superintendent Mark Kinderman. “We did everything we could to try to get some kind of response, to try to track someone down,” Kinderman told him. “We tried a lot of different family members. . . . Every number we had was called, was called multiple times.” The father acknowledged the difficulty of tracking people down by cell phone—“a lot of people’s numbers tend to change”—but he asked why, if nobody could reach him on the phone, he had not received a letter notifying him of his son’s death…”


https://www.aclu.org/issues/mass-incarceration/privatization-criminal-justice/private-prisons


Source: Prison treats inmates too harshly – Rockford Register Star


If he is any bit a humanitarian, State’s Attorney, Joe Bruscato should not waste a moment in reviewing and dismissing the prosecution of John Horton, and ending the 23 years of suffering which this man has endured.

 

http://www.rrstar.com/news/20161012/illinois-appellate-court-says-rockford-man-convicted-of-murder-entitled-to-new-trial


Chuck Sweeney, local opinion columnist for the Rockford Register-Star newspaper points out the big hole in the way in which the Winnebago County Board operates which keeps it in the red. The Winnebago County Board sets a budget every year, but it apparently lets certain County Departmental heads walk all over the restraints of that budget when they want to exceed their individual budget allotments. Sweeney basically reveals that those department head County employees who have political clout feel free to approach individual County Board members for approval to overspend their departmental budgets when they run out of money. Sweeney indicates that this is apparently a routine occurrence, and that those individual County Board members often go along with these departmental requests and approve the excess expenditures.

http://www.rrstar.com/news/20161008/chuck-sweeny-saying-yes-to-amendment-demands-means-winnebago-county-has-no-budget

Well geez, now we really know why the Winnebago County Board can’t seem to rein in it’s County spending of taxpayer funds! They, as well as these departmental heads just don’t seem to understand what living within a financial budget means.

Most employees know they don’t stand a chance in going to the boss and asking for more money these days. The Winnebago County Board draws up a budget every year which requires Board votes for approval and passage. The fact that departmental heads would even think that they can confidently side-step the finality of that process by approaching a Board member to okay them additional funds indicates either extreme weakness and disunity in the Winnebago County Board or simple financial ineptitude.

That several departments came forward to successfully feed at this trough just recently despite the current County budget shortfall indicates how routine this practice is and how the County Board has created a monster it will now have to rein in if it is to get the County budget under control.

http://www.rrstar.com/news/20160804/winnebago-county-board-considers-15-million-in-budget-amendments-as-bigger-shortfall-looms

No wonder the County Board has Sheriff Caruana routinely grand-standing before it for more money for pet projects in his department.

Up for grabs is the question: Who is really in charge of our money in Winnebago County?

 

 

 

http://www.rrstar.com/news/20161008/chuck-sweeny-saying-yes-to-amendment-demands-means-winnebago-county-has-no-budget


By Jeff Kolkey Staff writer

Posted Jun. 24, 2016 at 12:14 PM
Updated Jun 24, 2016 at 5:37 PM

ROCKFORD — Digital scanners tuned to Rockford police channels will fall silent Aug. 1.

Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea is ordering all digital radio communications to be transmitted over only encrypted channels starting in August, preventing members of the public and news organizations from listening to police radio traffic. O’Shea said he is concerned about officer safety and individuals’ privacy rights and worries that open communication tips off criminals to police movements.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department may follow suit next year.”I’m not trying to hide anything,” O’Shea said today. “It’s not about cutting off the media or the public.”

O’Shea said technology had made it easier for criminals to glean information from police radio traffic that can thwart law enforcement, give suspects advanced notice of imminent law enforcement activity and compromise investigations.

The change to encrypted channels involves reprogramming police radios at virtually no cost, O’Shea said.Plans are for the department to continue keeping a police blotter, Facebook page and Twitter feed to disseminate information to the public.

O’Shea said the department plans to establish a dedicated news media hotline and create a 911 call log that journalists and the public can use to monitor criminal and police activity.It has not been determined how often the log will be updated and published. And O’Shea said it will be scrubbed of calls, such as child sex crimes and “certain domestics,” the police department determines are inappropriate to publish.

“With what we are putting in place, I feel very comfortable it won’t decrease our transparency,” O’Shea said.Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association, said the shift to encrypted police communications is becoming more common in the state and in jurisdictions across the country. Police encryption raises the chance that the police department itself becomes the sole source of news and information about crime, he said.

“It’s going to make it very difficult to have immediate knowledge of what’s going on,” Craven said. “I’m not sure if this was designed to keep nosy reporters from knowing what’s going on, or if that’s an aftereffect.”

Source: Rockford to scramble all police radio communication – News – Rockford Register Star – Rockford, IL


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The Richard Wanke prosecution clock ticks on for his April 2014 demand for a speedy trial.  Yet his case has been delayed and continued due to “inclement weather”, the illness of his assigned Public Defender, and now again, for personal reasons by the judge who has set the next court date for Friday, February 6, 2015, at 1:30 pm in courtroom 478 of the Winnebago County Courthouse, located at 400 West State Street, in Rockford, IL.

This rescheduled hearing on the disqualification of the Winnebago County Public Defenders office has languished for more than 60 days as Richard’s conflicted counsel walks the fine line between advocating for his offices’s removal from Richard’s representation to protecting it from having to air dirty laundry in public (such as the details of its own involvement in it’s client’s arrest). This divided loyalty lies at the crux of this Friday’s hearing.

Karen Sorensen, the head Public Defender of Winnebago County, withdrew from the case in 2008 citing conflicts-of- interest, and other experienced public defenders who knew the murder victim have also stepped back from the case. Attorney Gregory Clark, was highly respected and well-connected locally. Inadvertent coincidence or not, the wisdom of  scheduling this hearing, critical to decide the very constitutional direction of the defendant’s case, on the exact day of attorney Clark’s death, seven years ago is questionable; at least it is to this defendant.

As Richard Wanke states, “I have been held responsible and without bail in some sense since 2008 in this case and my charging in April 2014, was just the formality of my on-going ordeal. And, so far, while I have also filed a speedy trial demand and repeatedly requested conflict-free counsel, I have yet to receive either. And, somehow, I feel that I am not the only Winnebago County defendant exposed to an unusual degree of jeopardy in the county legal process.”