The shooting deaths of actress Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother, and nephew are stirring debate about why Chicago is the nation’s homicide capital, reports USA Today. William Balfour, 27, the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson’s sister Julia, is a “person of interest.” Balfour was arrested on a drug charge in June, but authorities declined to return him to prison on a parole violation, the Associated Press reports. A judge dismissed the charge for lack of probable cause in July, but under state parole rules, Balfour could have gone back to prison just for the arrest. Mayor Richard Daley said the Hudson slayings, which police say might be linked to a family dispute, could not have been stopped. He vowed to reduce the murder toll, which stands unofficially at 436 so far this year. From January to September, there were 14.6 percent more murders than in the same period in 2007.
Police Superintendent Jody Weis is creating a 150-officer task force to disrupt gang activity; he promised to move more police into high-crime neighborhoods. Weis said the gang culture is “the driving force behind the vast majority of violence, with more than half the murders committed by gangs.” Alderwoman Freddrenna Lyle says shifting police won’t end violence. “We have to look at the availability of handguns and what it is that’s causing people to feel that it’s acceptable to pick one up and use it,” she says. Magnus Seng, an associate criminal justice professor at Chicago’s Loyola University, agrees. “What kind of ethics do (criminals) have that allow them to do this?” he asks. They reflect a culture that signals “there’s no consequences, there’s no guilt  and the way to solve a problem is to shoot it.”