ISRA Thursday Bulletin - May 21, 2020

by Richard Pearson

While we may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to reopening Illinois, we still are going to have to deal with some terrible decisions that have been made by those in power.  One of those decisions is the release of 4828 felons back in to Illinois communities to prevent them from getting the Coronavirus.  As I always say, “What about us, are we chopped liver?”  Apparently, that answer is yes.  To get into prison these days you a really have to work at it.  Felons have more protection than law-abiding citizens it seems. 

Here is what the breakdown of those released in Illinois looks like: Somewhere between 48 to 54 Class M felons were released.  Class M translates to murder or attempted murder.  The Class X felons are the next category with 496.  What are Class X felonies?  A short list includes home invasion and many of the aggravated charges which include arson, battery with a firearm, battery of a child, carjacking, armed robbery, rape and other sex crimes.  Also included is the possession of controlled substances, all of which could easily lead to murder.  The next group is Class 4 felons with 1311 in this class released. These include aggravated assault, stalking, unlawful possession of a firearm, domestic battery and dog fighting.  There were 1036 Class 3 felons released.  Class 3 offenses include aggravated battery, involuntary manslaughter, perjury, incest and aggravated stalking.  The next largest group was Class 2 felons, 1248, which includes some form of arson, bribery, burglary, criminal sexual abuse and kidnapping.  Finally, there were 657 Class 1 felons released.  Class 1 crimes include discharge of a firearm, residential burglary, carjacking and criminal sexual assault.

Remember, in the age of plea bargaining, these crimes may have been a lot worse.  Right now, there may be a lot more of these individuals out there because police have stopped arresting many people. 

I went through all of this so you have an understanding of how serious this problem is.  These people have not stopped committing crimes just because they have been released.  I think it is quite the contrary.  These people have learned that crime has little or no punishment.  A prime example happened in New York.  A woman was grocery shopping and came back to her car about 3pm.  She was raped in broad daylight by one of these criminals who was released because of the Coronavirus.  She is devastated for life.  The guy is back in jail but do you think he cares?  Probably not.  

The law-abiding citizens are left to deal with this every hour of every day.  You and I have to be ready to face the criminals.  You have to prepare ahead of time.  This is no time for on-the-job training.  You have to raise your everyday awareness.  Look around the parking lot when you leave the grocery store.  Look in the back seat of your car.  Look out your windows and check for suspicious activity.  When you gas up your vehicle, lock the doors.  If you have a Concealed Carry License, use it.  If you don’t have one, get one.  

If you have been watching the General Assembly, you noticed the gun bills have all been extended until May 31.  This happens every year.  They will probably be extended a couple of more times.  Starting June 1, the requirement to pass a bill goes from a simple majority, 50% plus one vote, to a super majority, 60%.  The danger lies after Veto Session is over.  The new General Assembly normally takes over on the second Wednesday of January.  In 2021, that will be January 13.  During the time from the last Veto Session until the new legislature takes over, the General Assembly can go back into regular session.  We will have to be on high alert during those perilous days.

I expect special sessions this summer.  Special sessions require that the legislation being considered be posted.  They are limited by that posting.  That doesn’t mean we won’t be there.  With the Coronavirus problem, things are unlikely to be normal in the foreseeable future.

Memorial Day is early this year.  Memorial Day has its roots deeply planted in Illinois.  Memorial Days were observed in several places around the country, most notably in Waterloo, New York.  General John A. Logan of Murphysboro, Illinois, became the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Veteran’s group, equivalent to the modern-day American Legion.  The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was founded in Decatur, Illinois on April 6, 1866 by Benjamin Stephenson.  Illinois had the most soldiers of any state in the Civil War.  On May 5, 1868, General Logan issued General Order No. 11, declaring May 30th Memorial Day.  The many members of the GAR insured its observance on that date throughout the Country until 1970, when it became the last Monday in May.  At that time, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect making that change.

The Grand Army of the Republic became a powerful organization in 1890, with over 410,000 members.  A candidate had a tough time getting elected without their endorsement.  The Grand Army of the Republic was dissolved in 1956 when the last member died.  The Grand Army of the Republic Museum is located in Springfield, Illinois, at 629 South 7th Street (phone number 217-522-4373).  They are normally open 10am to 4pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday but are closed until July, due to the Coronavirus.  

Memorial Day was an important day for a kid like me growing up in a small midwestern town in which every able-bodied man enlisted in the U. S. Military.  Everyone had some relative in WWII.  The wounds were still fresh and many would never get over their loss of a son, husband or father.  The worst were those who were lost and never found.  Our neighbor lost their only son when a bomber inexplicably blew up over the Atlantic.  Their name was Frobish and they were wonderful people who spent the rest of their lives just waiting to die.  No trace of anyone on that plane was ever found, the entire air crew just vanished.  I remember their Gold Star Flag always hanging in their front window but we seldom saw them.  I had asked my mother what the flag was for and she told me what happened.  I still think of them when I pass by the place where they lived.

For me, Memorial Day is about remembering all those who served.  I know we think about the unofficial beginning of summer, the pool opening and the ever-present Memorial Day sale.  Take a little time and remember all those who served and be grateful we live in a Country that has such people.

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