Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced changes in leadership within the court’s adult probation department Tuesday. The changes follow recent incidents of people being accused of committing high-profile crimes while under the office’s supervision, but Evans did not indicate a reason for personnel shifts in his email to court workers.
In late March, prosecutors accused Antoine Jackson of following a woman from the Belmont Red Line station and raping her in a nearby alley. At the time of the attack, Jackson was non-compliant with the terms of probation in another case that involved allegations of sexual assault and robbery of a woman on a Red Line train last year.
Even though Jackson was not living up to his probation obligations, the court’s probation department never picked him up for non-compliance, records show.
A plea deal
Jackson pleaded guilty to robbery in the 2020 case on October 19 after prosecutors agreed to drop sex crime charges in a deal that resulted in him receiving a two-year probation sentence from Judge Neera Walsh.
During a Zoom court hearing on December 4, prosecutors asked Walsh to find Jackson in violation of probation because he failed to meet most of his obligations. He didn’t show up for a required appointment on November 20; he didn’t respond to a request for substance abuse evaluation; he didn’t provide proof of mental health treatment, he made no payments toward court-ordered fees; and — tellingly — he failed to register as a sex offender.
Walsh ordered Jackson to go onto the sheriff’s electronic monitoring program. That presented two problems. First, the sheriff’s monitoring program is for people who are on bond, not for probationers, a sheriff’s spokesperson said. And second, Jackson’s hearing was on Zoom, so even if he qualified for the program, he was being trusted to turn himself in to be banded.
He never turned himself in for the program he didn’t qualify for, records show. And the probation department didn’t go out to get him.
Letters in the case court file show the sheriff’s office essentially asked the judge what she was doing and how she expected them to put someone on electronic monitoring without the person being on bond. About a week later, still on Zoom, Walsh set a recognizance bond in the case and ordered him to turn himself in.
Jackson still didn’t turn himself in. And the probation department still didn’t go get him.
In another letter on February 2, a sheriff’s office sergeant told Walsh, “Mr. Jackson has failed to comply with this order by not turning himself in…to be placed on Sheriff’s Electronic Monitoring.”
Walsh issued an arrest warrant for Jackson on February 4. And nobody went to get him — until Chicago police tracked him down after the woman was raped near the Belmont Red Line station nearly two months later. Locating Jackson was not too challenging for CPD. According to prosecutors, they found him less than 24 hours after the alleged rape victim identified him in a photo line-up.
Earlier this month, we asked the chief judge’s office what steps the probation department took to bring Jackson into custody after he repeatedly violated his agreement.
A spokesperson for Evans claimed that “the Adult Probation Department does not go into the field and look for people on warrants.” The spokesperson did not respond to follow-up questions asking if the department should go after someone for violating probation.
Violating for over a year
Another tragic case involving someone who was wanted for probation violation came to light on Tuesday afternoon.
In that case, prosecutors said Cash Johnson, 26, fatally stabbed a 75-year-old man in a Rogers Park gangway. According to the state, Johnson was wanted for probation violation in a felony narcotics case since January 2020, yet he remained on the loose until police arrested him for the murder this week.
In another high-profile situation, prosecutors said Ruben Roman, the 21-year-old accused of firing a gun and then handing it to 13-year-old Adam Toledo moments before Chicago police fatally shot the teen on March 29, has repeatedly violated the terms of probation in a gun case.
Roman went on probation on the gun charge in July 2019 after prosecutors agreed to drop a series of other felonies in a plea deal. According to court records, the state’s attorney’s office filed probation violation motions against Roman in December 2019, March 2020, and August 2020. He was never given a new sentence despite his alleged violations.
Earlier this month, CWBChicago also asked Evans’ office about reports that a specific supervisor in the adult probation department had been seemingly missing in action for an extended period of time. His office said only that the individual is “an employee with our office” and “is on the job.” The office did not respond to follow-up questions about the employee’s past attendance.
On Tuesday, Evans announced a series of eight “promotions and reassignments” within the adult probation department.