Chicago’s War on Drugs

Chicago’s War on Drugs


drug-crimesThe Chicago Reader reported that Cook County spends at least $78 million every year charging, arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating citizens for possession of small amounts of marijuana. It’s estimated that the City of Chicago could eliminate those costs and bring in an additional $7 million in revenue every year just by decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and also save countless man hours for law enforcement, court and jail personnel.

The City of Chicago is experiencing the same budget problems as other municipalities across the nation and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana as a means of producing much-needed revenue for the City. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle wants to reduce the exorbitant costs of arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people for low-level drug offenses and Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey agrees with and supports decriminalization of marijuana.

At a recent press conference on the matter, Commissioner Fritchey said “The simple truth is that the decades-long policies that we have had toward possession of small amounts of marijuana have failed to do anything other than fill our jails with nonviolent offenders, strain our budgets, and according to some studies, even cause an increase in more serious crime.”

In order to bring about the desired change, Alderman Danny Solis introduced an Ordinance to the City Council that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a “ticketable” offense.   Rather than charging, prosecuting and incarcerating people who are in possession of small amounts of marijuana, they would be required to pay a $200 fine instead of the current misdemeanor charges that are applied, which costs the city, county and state millions of dollars.

Solis told the Associated Press “In these trying times of the economy, we could really use the revenue generated by fines versus arrests. And each (arrest) means police officers are spending an inordinate amount of time outside the neighborhoods, inside the district offices doing paperwork.”

Solis has the support of Alderman Joe Moreno who shared his thoughts on America’s war on drugs in a blog recently written for the Huffington Post:

“The fact that governments all over the country are broke can be a good thing, if lawmakers are brave enough to stop appealing to the lowest common denominator and start telling the truth. This Ordinance begins this in Chicago.

“The War on Drugs started a year before I was born.   It needs to die A.S.A.P., because it has become a de facto war on poor people, minorities and reason.”

Several Aldermen have signed on as co-sponsors of the Ordinance, including Deborah Graham, Bob Fioretti, Joe Moreno, Walter Burnett, Ariel Reboyras, Richard Mell and Howard Brookins.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that even law enforcement officers have suggested decriminalization of marijuana and that the issue has two parts. “The first part, which is what’s motivating people, is the issue of the cost in the system: arresting, overtime, court, jail. Then, there’s also the criminal justice side. I have to evaluate and will evaluate. “

When Emanuel took over as Mayor of Chicago, he made it clear that he would do whatever is necessary to get Chicago’s fiscal house in order. As the City of Chicago and Cook County continually struggle with the same budget issues, the one topic that keeps arising as a potential solution is decriminalization of marijuana. The Offices of Michael J. Brennan..A Drug Crime Lawyer in Chicago.

Personal Injuries and Death

Personal Injuries and Death

Recently verified statistics regarding automobile accidents during 2011 in the City of Chicago show that accidents and fatalities are occurring at an alarming rate. If you drive Chicago streets regularly, you will probably encounter a serious car accident eventually and hopefully it won’t involve you and your vehicle.

Chicago personal injury lawyerThere are approximately 100 fatal car accidents annually in the Chicago area, involving about 161 vehicles and 240 people, approximately 109 of which passed away due to sustained injuries, and 42 of which were caused by impaired drivers.There were also 50 pedestrians killed by accidental injuries.

Personal injury lawsuits very often arise from accidents that are caused by the carelessness or intentional acts of others or because of defective products that cause injury in some way (product liability). Whenever a person (or entity) is found legally responsible for injuries to another person, they are liable for the injury and may be forced to pay compensatory and/or punitive damages related thereto.

Compensatory damages are awarded in an attempt to put the injured person back into the position they were in prior to the injury and punitive damages intend to punish wrongdoers by making an example of them and preventing them from harming anyone else in the future.

Car, truck and motorcycle accidents aren’t the only cause of personal injury and death in Chicago. Many personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involve construction accidents, slip and falls, nursing home abuse and neglect, medical malpractice, injuries at birth, product liability and claims for injuries sustained while at work. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed when a fatality occurs due to the negligence or carelessness of another person.

The most common personal injuries sustained in accidents after which lawsuits are filed involve injuries to the back, neck, head, brain, legs, knees, feet, shoulders, amputation, disfigurement, paralysis of all or part of the body and physical and psychological injury that results in scarring and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

If you or a loved one has experienced personal injury due to the negligence of another person, your first concern will be getting your medical bills paid and preventing future financial suffering from lost wages, as well as making sure your insurance company covers the cost of any future medical or other treatment that you will need related to your injury.

Injuries sustained in any type of accident can be life altering and severe and a statute of limitations exists restricting the amount of time you have to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. For this and many other reasons, you will need the expertise of a qualified attorney.

The experienced attorneys at the law office of Michael J. Brennan have litigated hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits and are available to do the same for you. We will discuss your particular situation, cover the options available to you, and work with all other involved parties, including law enforcement, insurance companies, medical professionals and others to ensure that your rights are protected and that your needs are met after suffering accidental mental or physical injuries through no fault of your own.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation and you should immediately seek the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney to help you through the process and protect the rights of you and your family members.

Illinois Personal Injury Laws

The State of Illinois has enacted a variety of laws regarding personal injury cases, including a Statute of Limitations, which restricts the amount of time within which you can legally pursue damages for personal injuries sustained through the negligence or carelessness of another.

The Illinois Statutes of Limitation vary in different kinds of cases, as follows:

General personal injury cases: two years.
Medical malpractice injury cases: two years from discovery of injury.
Products liability cases: two up to a max of eight years from discovery.

The State of Illinois is a “fault” state, using the doctrine of 51% negligence, which means that an injured party cannot recover any damages if he or she is more than 51% at fault in the incident that caused their own injuries.

Chicago personal injury lawyerThe State of Illinois personal injury has no “cap on damages” awarded in personal injury cases, which means that any amount of money can be awarded in damages for personal injuries.

The State of Illinois imposes no “serious injury” threshold, which means that an injured party can seek damages for minor injuries and is not required to prove injuries of a “serious” nature.

The State of Illinois has determined “theories” under which legal liability can be imposed in a variety of cases in which personal injuries occur, as follows:

Auto Accidents – A person’s acceptance of a driver’s license in the State of Illinois implies that he or she will operate a vehicle in a negligence-free manner, which means that they will not speed, participate in text messaging or drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. If a driver licensed by the State of Illinois is found to have failed to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle, he or she will be liable for any personal injuries that occur to anyone as a result of such lack of care.

Medical Malpractice – Any hospital, clinic or other provider of medical care in the State of Illinois will be responsible for damages caused to an injured patient when the provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in the community.

Product Liability – Since products must endure years of testing from the point of designing to distributing them, it is assumed that they are safe for use and/or consumption by Illinois consumers who use them.   When they prove to be unsafe, everyone in the chain of production from designing to distribution can be held strictly liable for personal injuries that arise from such use or consumption.

Slip and Fall Accidents – These incidents occur all the time and, to avoid excessive and unnecessary claims and lawsuits for injuries sustained due to slip and fall accidents, the State of Illinois requires that the parties must inspect a situation for dangerous or unsafe conditions. This results in no liability being found in the case of a trespasser who is injured. Also, damages are usually not awarded in situations that involve unsafe or dangerous conditions that could not have been detected by reasonable inspection.

Workplace Accidents – All employers in the State of Illinois are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance on behalf of each of their employees. If an employee sustains personal injuries while at work or in the course of employment, the workers’ compensation insurance will cover all medical treatment and examinations, as well as vocational rehabilitation, if necessary, and monetary settlements in cases involving personal injuries of a permanent nature.

Wrongful Death Accidents – When a person dies in the State of Illinois as the result of the carelessness or negligence of another, the negligent party will be held responsible for damages to the decedent’s estate, including parents, spouse or children. Age of the victim at the time of death, along with potential lifetime income are factors that are used to determine the amount of damages and the awarded damages will be adjusted for inflation.

Personal Injury Accidents — Should You Hire an Attorney?

Personal Injury Accidents — Should You Hire an Attorney?

If you or a loved one have been hurt by the negligence, carelessness or intentional acts of another, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries in the form of compensatory and/or punitive damages. Read More   Compensatory damages are designed to reimburse you for injury related medical and other expenses (including future expenses) and punitive damages are meant to punish the responsible party for the wrongdoing that caused your injuries.

personal-injury-lawyerYou may also be wondering if you should hire an attorney to answer relevant questions, including whether or not you should file a personal injury lawsuit.

Some personal injury cases can easily be handled yourself but, in order to get a fair settlement, it is imperative that you understand how the legal system works and that you take the time and effort to learn your rights under the law. By educating yourself, you will have a much better chance of success.

If you decide to hire an experienced attorney who is already educated in these matters, you can avoid the stress of the necessary education and focus on healing, recovering from your injuries and getting your life back on track.

Handling a personal injury case involves many things, including interviewing witnesses, law enforcement, medical personnel and others with knowledge about your case, as well as determining liability, negotiating with insurance companies, evaluating complex medical records and, maybe most importantly, placing a value on your injuries. A statue of limitations exists that restricts the time within which you can pursue a legal remedy, so it is important to begin the process as soon as possible.

The experienced attorneys at the law office of Michael J. Brennan have successfully handled hundreds of personal injury accident cases, some of which were negotiated and settled without going to court. In more complicated cases involving severe injuries, a lawsuit becomes necessary in order to adequately protect the rights of all parties involved.

Our attorneys have handled personal injuries cases involving accidents with cars, trucks, boats and motorcycles, as well as dog bites and other animal attacks, burns and electrocutions, slip and falls, construction and workplace accidents, drunk driving and uninsured motorist claims, as well as medical malpractice, head, brain and spinal cord injuries and wrongful death.

The highly qualified and experienced staff of attorneys at the law office of Michael J. Brennan are available to advise you about the legal process of receiving compensation for your personal injuries, as well as offering valuable information that will help you recover from your injuries as quickly as possible and protect your legal rights along the way.

Chicago Unemployment, Drugs and Crime Lawyer

Chicago Unemployment, Drugs and Crime

The great City of Chicago has many things that distinguish it from other large American cities, but the fact that it is a hub for drug trafficking is probably not high on its list of bragging points. This explains the fact that over 80% of people arrested and incarcerated test positive for at least one illegal drug in their systems upon arrival at Chicago area correctional facilities. This fact is also not high on the City’s bragging list, but a fact nevertheless.

marijuanaAnother startling fact is that more than 30% of those entering the Chicago area correctional system did not graduate from high school or complete a GED program, almost half are unemployed and more than 75% have no health insurance.

These numbers support studies that have shown a direct correlation between drug abuse, unemployment and criminal behavior in the City of Chicago.   While mostly young people, especially those under the age of 21, admit that they smoke marijuana regularly (the way many people drink alcohol), many criminals older than about 35 years of age admit being addicts who are physically dependent upon at least one illegal substance, including crack cocaine or heroin.

Interestingly, while addicts are usually the ones caught committing property-related and/or violent crimes, the majority of drug arrests involve marijuana users, a generally benevolent group of people. Apparently methamphetamines and prescription drugs are not as much of a problem for Chicago area residents because few people arrested admit to having issues with those types of drugs or they just manage to stay out of trouble.

Over 50% of inmates incarcerated in the Cook County Jail test positive for marijuana in their systems, 25% test positive for cocaine, 10% had heroin and other opiates in their systems and 20% test positive for some combination of illegal drugs. This trend is so ordinary that correctional law enforcement officials assume that most people entering Chicago area jails have some kind of illicit drug in their systems or are in withdrawal from something at the time of incarceration, the symptoms of which withdrawal go largely unnoticed by law enforcement officials who deal with thousands of addicts that pass through the area’s correctional system each and every year.

These facts beg the question “what are we doing wrong?”

We are all aware of our public school systems that continually fail students who aren’t academically inclined, but shouldn’t we be providing alternatives to those students that include vocational schools offering a variety of disciplines? Many students are not college material, but would greatly succeed as electricians, pilots, chefs, welders, builders, mechanics and a host of other valuable occupations and shouldn’t we be including those careers when attempting to guide our young people into successful lives as adults? As well as providing a means of educating them in those disciplines, all of which are absolutely essential to our lives?   America has not done this and, as a result, we have college graduates starting their adult lives deeply in debt with student loans who are forced to work as secretaries (or other fields outside their chosen discipline that don’t require a degree), while competent people without degrees are unemployed and unable to find work because they’re always competing with college graduates. This lack of planning and foresight has left millions of college graduates without work, as well as leaving those we defined earlier as “not college material” with few choices as far as paying their own way in life.

Maybe America should create a system similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC’s) that was established after World War II as a means of employing lots of young people to perform jobs that benefited the country and its infrastructure. Or maybe our young people should be required to serve the country in some way, not necessarily in the military, but some kind of community service from which they could gain knowledge and experience to help them achieve successful adult lives.

Would legalizing drugs have a positive or negative affect on American society? Drugs, legal and illegal, are already rampant in this country and incarcerating addicts or recreational drug users is not rehabilitative, but rather punitive. Does this achieve anything? No young person aspires to become an addict, a criminal or incarcerated in their adult lives, but it happens. Would legalizing all drugs help identify those who need help early on and thereby reduce the numbers of drug-related crimes, convictions and incarcerations to which drugs contribute? What would America be like if we offered help to those addicted to drugs, including alcohol? Would we still have the drug problem that we have today? Also, shouldn’t we be providing rehabilitation to those incarcerated for crimes, instead of just putting them in a cage for hours, days, weeks and years on end, while doing nothing to help them make better lives for themselves if and when they are released?

Why is America’s health care system a “for profit” endeavor?   Everybody will eventually get some kind of illness that needs medical attention, many of which result in death (especially when there’s no access to health care), and none of us are getting out of this alive, but “the powers that be” in the United States do nothing to change the system and health care costs continue to climb astronomically, making health care unaffordable and inaccessible to many hard working citizens.   America has the best and brightest minds in the world for health care and leads the way in medical research and advancements, but what good is it if most people aren’t able to utilize the benefits of all that research and the money poured into producing more and better medical options? Maintaining good health should not be reserved only for those who have a lot of money!

The number of unemployed people in America continues to grow as corporations out source jobs to foreign countries, where they can pay employees less and avoid paying U.S. taxes (which hurts our economy), while offering no benefits to employees and not being required to maintain safe working environments. None of these things are beneficial to America, but only to the corporations whose only concern is more profits. Shouldn’t American corporations be penalized for this since it is detrimental to the country as a whole?

The City of Chicago and the entire United States of America is a wonderful place to call home, but there are many things we could do to change systems that we know don’t work and continuing with them in vain is a waste of time and money. Let’s use common sense approaches to resolving our problems and see what THAT does to the perpetual issues needing resolution in Chicago, as well as nationwide.