United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has stepped front and center in national media publications recently with his announcement that he will use all his clout and political capital to help “crush” Chicago’s street gangs.
Kirk says that a state and federal crackdown reminiscent of the late 1920s and early 1930s campaign that brought down famed gangster Al Capone is necessary to clean up Chicago’s streets. Impliedly, the tactic can be used as a guideline to help fight against drug trafficking and related drug crimes in other cities and states.
Although Kirk’s tough stance and words have already resonated with many people, critical voices will certainly mass to point out the careful balancing act that would need to be followed regarding the senator’s would-be assault on crime. As much as some people would simply like to see thousands of people rounded up and thrown in prison, following through on that tack would unquestionably result in the trampling of constitutional rights in many cases as well as the imprisonment of innocent persons along with the guilty.
That seems flatly manifest from Kirk’s statement that he would simply like to see the entire alleged population of one street gang — reportedly about 18,000 people — arrested and incarcerated. He says he would “like to see a mass pickup of them and put them all in the Thomson Correctional Facility.”
Notwithstanding Kirk’s views and political posturing, a number of persons from across the criminal justice system — from defense attorneys and prosecutors to fair-minded police officers and judges — would certainly remind him that the United States legal system posits a presumption of innocence until a party is proven guilty and provides safeguards in the process that allow for a fair playing field.
No truly fair individual would ever argue for the incarceration of any person without convincing proof of criminal conduct.
Source: Fox, “Kirk: Time for feds to take down Chicago street gangs, “Mike Flannery, May 9, 2013