Recently, a tragic series of events ended with the death of an 11-year-old boy in Chicago. A man on probation in Wisconsin was charged with numerous crimes in Illinois, but the Wisconsin Probation Department did not know it. If they had, the man would have likely been in jail in December of 2013, instead of fleeing police in a stolen vehicle before crashing into another car and killing a young boy.
Falling Through the Cracks
The probationer had been lying to agents in Wisconsin and Illinois, effectively falling through the cracks between authorities in the two states. He was not being monitored closely enough, and the agencies had failed to properly communicate with one another. Wisconsin was not aware of the man's arrests in Illinois, and Illinois did not know he was on probation in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, this case is not the first example of a defendant not being properly monitored while on probation in Cook County. Even still, this case highlights the difficulty in supervising defendants who travel out of state.
While the man was on probation in Wisconsin, he was convicted of felony theft in Cook County, and was arrested again in Lake County. He was arrested for violating his probation in Wisconsin, but that was due to a relapse on crack cocaine use. Despite the drug use, probation officials did not seek to revoke his probation and released him from prison, unaware of his criminal activity in Illinois. Had they known of his recent arrests, it is much more likely, if not guaranteed, that his probation would have been revoked and he would have been incarcerated.
The Fatal Accident
Eventually, authorities caught up with the probationer as a result of suspected carjackings and robberies spanning multiple states. It was during their pursuit of the man on the South Side of Chicago that he smashed into an SUV, killing a young boy before stealing another car and escaping police. He was caught several days later in Milwaukee.
A Senseless Tragedy
The boy's death horrified the community and especially those who knew him closely, particularly in light of the probationer's past and the failure of officials to track him properly. The failure is due, in part, to the absence of a national system enabling a probation officer to view an offender's arrest in another state. It is still worth noting, however, that Illinois should have notified Wisconsin of the man's arrests and officers in Wisconsin should have been monitoring him more closely. The system flaws represent a safety concern for the public, and many are looking for a solution on the national level.
The young boy's family has initiated a lawsuit against Chicago because of the accident. The probationer was able to avoid apprehension for violating his supervision for years, due in part to Wisconsin's allowing him to check in by phone. In addition, there are databases available for law enforcement agencies to use to share information with other states, so it remains unclear as to why Cook County did not discover the probationer's Wisconsin record. One thing is for sure: the chain of communication broke somewhere, and that failure had devastating results.This case is a stark reminder that negligence is not always limited to a driver in the event of a car accident. This particular death was the result of a systematic failure on the part of several state agencies. In accident cases, it is important to hire an experienced attorney who is able to view the totality of a situation and explain how the law can operate to achieve justice for those injured. Contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today for a consultation. We serve clients in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Kendall, and Will Counties.
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