Archive for the ‘Winnebago County Jail’ 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

 

 


An AP article was just posted about a defendant in Atlanta, GA who has been sitting in jail and waiting to go to trial for the past 10 years:

“Kharon Davis has spent nearly 10 years in jail. He’s had four sets of attorneys, with two judges on the bench. His co-defendants’ cases have wrapped up. Davis has appeared in court for several hearings, and a new prosecutor is assigned.

But Davis has had no trial. There’s been no jury, no verdict, no conviction. Police say he killed a man in a drug deal gone wrong, but he hasn’t had his day in court. He’s charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty. Trial dates have come and gone, and it’s now scheduled for September. By then, 10 years and three months will have passed since the crime.

The Constitution guarantees suspects “the right to a speedy trial.” Capital cases often take a year or longer to get to trial, but 10 years is rare – experts call it shocking and say it could be unconstitutional. Prisoner advocates and court-watchers say such delays take an exhaustive toll on suspects stuck behind bars and on victims’ families, who are robbed of closure that can come from trials…”

Read the full article at: http://www.waff.com/story/34537151/10-years-in-jail-and-still-no-trial-for-murder-suspect

 And, locally, the Richard Wanke case

Since yesterday, when it was announced that jury selection for Richard Wanke’s trial for the murder of Greg Clark has just started, some persons have been expressing surprise on social media that it has taken so long for this trial to start and wondering how and why this can happen. Wanke’s case isn’t taking 10 years to come to trial like Kharon Davis’s case, but it is now over 9 years since the Clark murder occurred in 2008, and the effect in Davis’s and Richard’s cases are the same; they have both spent literally years behind bars without their guilt or innocence being heard at trial. This amazes people because it’s hard for them to imagine just sitting in jail so long without trial or the right to one. We all generally believe that justice works faster and that people are protected from such harm until trial.

Yet both been Kharon Davis and Richard Wanke have been stuck in this legal quandary for years unable to do anything about it. 

The way each was put into legal limbo differs, but they’ve have no remedy. The Davis article discusses the constitutional right of defendants to a “Speedy Trial”, which, if exercised by a defendant can ensure that the defendant is brought to trial within a relatively short time span; sometimes that of a year and-a-half. This is important because serious cases virtually ensure that defendants are held jailed and held without bond the entire time they await trial.

What the Davis article fails to clarify is that currently the right to a speedy trial is interpreted to apply only to ensure that the State must not delay and if the speedy trial right is invoked by a defendant, then the State is forced to act and take you to trial quickly or the courts can throw a case out or dismiss it even without trial due to overlong delay. The Davis article does not say if Davis or his attorneys ever submitted a speedy trial request. Richard Wanke did so on his own the first time he appeared in Winnebago County court on the murder charge. If Davis’s attorneys did not protect his right, then they were ineffective at the time and may have cost him the opportunity to properly challenge the State.

The problem is that the Right to a Speedy Trial is not regarded as enforceable when the defendant’s own attorney or defense delays trial, and this has been the predicament facing both Davis and Richard Wanke  for the past several years. 

The Davis article explains how Davis has been harmed by repeated delays by his attorneys. His first attorney, Benjamin Meredith, should have immediately known to step off the case because his son was involved in it’s investigation. His second attorney, Derek Yarbrough, apparently took his sweet time or did nothing on the case till Davis yelled and had him removed. His third attorney had a conflict-of-interest and it appropriately only took him a few weeks to withdraw. His 4th, and most important attorney who will probably be stuck doing the job and representing Davis properly, has only been on the case since June 2016, and will now have a very hard time coming up to speed on it and doing the basic work on the case which probably hasn’t been done. Now, after all this time that county court although it wouldn’t comment on the handling of Davis’s case, it is probably aware of it and might now monitor it carefully to bring it to trial relatively quickly. Of course, there’s also a new prosecutor on the case so if Davis files his Speedy request now, it might now just apply.

In Richard Wanke’s situation, the State completely investigated his case and still waited years past 2008 to charge him with the murder, gambling on the small probability that it would uncover new, definitive evidence of his guilt. That says more about the weakness of the State’s case against Richard Wanke than anything else. Six years later in 2014, when it did charge him, the State was fully prepared and the defense was non-existant. From then to now, the trial delay has been caused by the defense taking time to learn the case and defend it. Richard hasn’t been able to do anything about that delay except sit waiting in jail.

The Davis article mentions how exhausting and stressful the wait for trial is. Just the example of the machinations in Davis’s defense team above illustrate the rise and fall of stress a defendant can face while waiting to learn his fate. It also mentions a likelihood that defendants will be physically (or psychologically too) damaged by the long wait in jail in close confinement, even in isolation, and away from those they love.  Davis’ mother says her son’s health is “suffering”. He was age 22 when first arrested. Since arrested in 2008, Richard Wanke’s health, aged 49 too has suffered from imprisonment and, he will appear at trial using court head-phones to hear, because he’s lost 50% of his hearing by an assault behind bars.

While both Davis and Wanke might have a legal claim on the unconstitutionality of the time and process they have endured to get to trial, the reader can bet they’d have a difficult time finding an attorney to aggressively fight the issue for them. This is just one of the ways in which defendants regularly lose out in the criminal justice system.


ROCKFORD — “It’s breathtaking. Oh my goodness,” a Rockford man said after emerging from the Winnebago County Jail into the sunshine this afternoon after more than 23 years behind bars for a murder he and his supporters maintain he didn’t commit.John Horton Jr., 40, was convicted of the 1993 murder of Arthur Castaneda in Rockford. Horton was 17 years old when Castaneda was fatally shot during a robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant, located at that time at 2715 Charles St. He was sentenced

Source: John Horton of Rockford free after more than 2 decades in prison


Source: Prison treats inmates too harshly – Rockford Register Star


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