Amid heavy criticism of violent and often-deadly crime in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is adopting a federal strategy of allowing the local government to sue street gangs for money and assets as a crime deterrent.
But experts say it is a futile and ineffective endeavor and just "for show."
"We will hold you accountable," Lightfoot said this week announcing the proposal modeled on federal law enforcement policies, CBS-2 Chicago reported.
Under the plan, Chicago prosecutors can file lawsuits that would have a judge rule on the penalties of money or property related to gang activity.
There are already legal actions to take against criminals, such as criminal prosecution and jail time, but experts note youthful offenders involved in the "approximately 100 street gang factions" outlined in the ordinance are not tried as adults.
"In federal court, you're dealing with organized street gangs — in many cases involving individuals that are in their 30s, sometimes even in their 40s — that are moving large amounts of drugs," former federal prosecutor Eric Sussman of Reed Smith LLP told CBS-2.
"In state court, most of these 15- and 16-year-olds they can't even identify aren't even subject to adult criminal prosecution."
Also, according to attorney John Mauck of Mauck & Baker, the criminals are like crime: They don't pay.
"Most of the lawsuits were ended by default judgments," Mauck told CBS-2. "Either they didn't serve the individuals, or the individuals didn't bother to come to court."
And proving connections to gangs is a time-consuming, if not costly, investigation, Mauck added.
"They'll sue a bunch of gang members and get some judgments and say, 'Look what we've done,' but it won't accomplish anything,'' Mauck said. "It's for show."
But Lightfoot is convinced it would reduce crime.
"To be very blunt and clear, we are going after their blood money — the money they have profited off killing," Lightfoot said.
The proposed ordinance will be reviewed Friday before being sent to Chicago's Public Safety Committee.
"I think this is clearly a political move in it, and their response to the fact that the city had been unable to articulate a policy to prevent the shootings in the killings that are going on in the city," Sussman told CBS-2.
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