February 11, 2019

Attorney General and Special Prosecutor Take Appropriate Steps to Reverse Illegal Sentence Given to Jason Van Dyke

State mandatory consecutive prison sentences are not fair but must apply to all defendants – including Jason Van Dyke

CHICAGO – The MacArthur Justice Center on Thursday issued the following statement in support of the decision by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon to challenge the legality of the sentence issued to Jason Van Dyke in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.

Locke Bowman, Executive Director of the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law:

We welcome this action needed to correct the illegal sentence given to Jason Van Dyke. By misinterpreting state sentencing statutes, Judge Gaughan mistakenly sentenced Van Dyke on the second-degree murder conviction instead of the 16 counts of aggravated battery, which is the more serious charge and requires mandated consecutive sentences when the aggravated battery causes severe bodily injury.

Mandated consecutive sentences are not good policy, do not deter crime and have led to extremely long and unfair sentences, especially to Black and Brown defendants, but until those laws change they must apply to everyone – including this white police officer, who killed Laquan McDonald with 16 shots.

A family representative of Laquan McDonald and 21 local community-based and civil and human rights organizations, recently sent a letter to Attorney General Raoul and State’s Attorney McMahon, the special prosecutor in the Van Dyke case, asking them to challenge the legality of the sentence given to Van Dyke. The letter was drafted by attorneys from the MacArthur Justice Center, the Police Accountability Project at the University of Chicago Law School, Samuels & Associates Ltd., and the Law Offices of Jeffery J. Neslund.

The letter, which explains why the sentence given to Van Dyke is illegal, is available here.