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Mobtown Beat

Simon vs. Bernstein

Wire creator accuses State’s Attorney of fudging numbers

DAVID SIMON PUBLISHED a huge pile of words explaining at length why the city’s homicide clearance rate—the number of homicide cases that end in arrest—is so low (42 percent, according to Justin Fenton’s recent Sun article) and why this is the fault of State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, who quietly negotiated a new protocol for murder cases last year: Police can’t charge anyone with murder unless the State’s Attorney gives them permission.

That means the police can’t “clear” their cases by arrest, and it means the State’s Attorney can prosecute only the strongest cases, making his conviction rate look good.

The Wire creator and ex-Sun reporter Simon goes on to rail about the Sun’s lack of rigor on this issue, saying that while Fenton, Peter Hermann, and others have done good work around the edges of it, they haven’t got to the nub of things, and the Sun as an institution has not cared enough to make a stand on it.

Fenton did expose the situation last August—just as Simon says he should have—but he didn’t implicate Bernstein, and the Sun did not run with the story or explain the institutional forces at play, as Simon says it would have back when he was a reporter on the cops beat.

Meanwhile, former Assistant State’s Attorney Page Croyder seconded Simon’s point on her blog but then asked “what statistics?” She pointed out that Bernstein’s office hasn’t published any of the sterling stats Simon says it’s gotten by gaming the numbers this way.

Croyder, of course, is no stranger to stats, having produced a damning report of the so-called “War Room’s” results under former State’s Attorney Pat Jessamy.

So far no word on this from Bernstein’s office.

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