Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Illinois trails all other states in catching killers

Killers are more likely to get away with murder in Illinois than in any other state.

Only 37.3 percent of the 756 homicides committed in Illinois in 2015 were cleared through the arrest (or death) of the offenders, according to a survey of police departments conducted by the Murder Accountability Project. The national homicide clearance rate in 2015 was 61.5 percent.

The study by MAP was the first accounting of homicide clearance in Illinois in more than a generation. The state ceased reporting clearance data to the FBI in 1994, making Illinois the only state that doesn’t monitor how often killers are caught.

“Illinois is badly under-performing when it comes to catching killers,” said Thomas K. Hargrove, founder and chairman of the Murder Accountability Project. “But since few people realize this, there is little hope that the public will demand change or that city, county and state leaders will monitor the problem and effect solutions.”

The Illinois State Police, which gathers annual crimes statistics, does not follow the reporting standards set by the federal Uniform Crime Report. The state counts homicide arrests, but these are highly misleading data since two or three (or more) people are often arrested in a single case.

That’s why the Illinois State Police reported 439 homicide arrests statewide while MAP estimates that only 282 homicides were actually cleared, based upon responses the nonprofit group received from Freedom of Information Act requests sent to 102 Illinois police departments.

Lower-than-average clearance rates are not exclusive to the Chicago Police Department, which cleared 30.2 percent of its homicides in 2015. Several jurisdictions suffered even lower rates including East St. Louis, with a clearance rate of 26.3 percent; Joliet with 11.1 percent; Maywood with 15.4 percent; and Rockford with 15.8 percent. The Illinois State Police had one of the worst clearance rates, making only one arrest among the 18 homicides it investigated.

To read the complete 14-page report with state and national data, click here.