Illinois Senator Mark Kirk made the news earlier this month when he announced that one of his priorities for his time serving Illinois on the federal level will be to increase the arrest rates for Chicago organized crime groups.
Law enforcement officials estimate that as many as 100,000 people in the Chicago area are affiliated with gangs. The issue came to national attention earlier this year when an honor student who was not affiliated with a gang was shot and killed by individuals who were allegedly members of a group known as the Gangster Disciples.
Senator Kirk says that he would like to “round up” the estimated 18,000 members of that group and detain them in a local corrections facility, where they would be charged with “drug dealing” and “murdering people.”
Distributing drugs and committing homicides are obviously crimes under state and federal law, but law enforcement agents must have specific information connecting an individual with a specific instance in order to arrest and charge them with a crime.
Aside from the obviously worthwhile task of trying to reduce violent crimes associated with gangs in Chicago, the senator’s proposals are concerning from a legal standpoint. Simply arresting someone who is associated with a criminal organization is a violation of due process rights, since police would lack the necessary evidence and procedural backing to deprive someone of their liberty.
People who are arrested in Illinois should know that police need to have a basic amount of evidence against them in order to proceed with charges and a case. If they do not have credible and specific evidence connecting a person to a specific crime, then the arrest may be invalid and the person should be free to leave. This is one reason why it is important and helpful to get advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney in the event of an arrest.
Source: Fox 5, “Kirk: Time for feds to take down Chicago street gangs,” Mike Flannery, May 2, 2013.