Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans has put the brakes on a new gun court, saying he was blindsided when he learned Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle was planning one, says the Chicago Sun-Times. On Wednesday, Preckwinkle announced the opening date for a gun court was set for July 1. Evans said he can't consider such a request until he hears from judges, the state's attorney, and public defender. Evans asked his staff to study the gun-court approach.
Earlier this year, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis found that of more than 8,000 people sentenced between 2005 and March 2012, about 54 percent received probation and the others received prison or jail terms in Cook County criminal court cases. Police officials said those figures showed a lack of certainty of punishment for people caught with a gun. Police and crime experts point to New York's gun courts as one reason for that city's huge decrease in crime. Gun courts typically handle gun possession cases. “Given the seriousness of Chicago's gun violence problem, gun court seems like one of the more promising strategies for ensuring the gun crimes, including illegal gun-carrying, are met with swift, certain and consistent penalties,” said Roseanna Ander of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. “It would be good to pilot gun court in perhaps one or two communities to see if it works for Cook County.” County Commissioner Larry Suffredin has doubts, saying the county experimented with gun courts for juveniles and they were scrapped because “they didn't work very well.”