“I am a black woman, and unapologetically so!” exclaimed Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx at a Candid Conversation with BGA President & CEO Andy Shaw last night.

The remark, one of many that had the audience of about 100 pumping their fists and cheering for the prosecutor, flowed from a response to Shaw’s question about perceived failures of Foxx’s predecessor, Anita Alvarez, the first woman and the first Hispanic elected to the office.

Foxx explained how embracing her gender, race and personal background have allowed her to lead authentically and be empathic to victims she now represents.

Shaw questioned Foxx on the “anti-police” sentiment some perceive in Chicago communities and what measures her office is taking to tackle police brutality. Foxx was quick to mention the credibility of the entire criminal justice system is in “tatters,” but also explained she believes many communities, while steeped in distrust, are “anti-bad policing,” not “anti-police.”

Foxx stressed she reminds her colleagues that they are public servants and encourages them to be more responsive and sensitive to victims and defendants alike. She also answered many pressing questions on her efforts to pilot new strategies for gun control in Cook County, wrongful convictions and the burden taxpayers face as a result of current sentencing policies.

Regarding the latter, Foxx expressed her exasperation with the squandering of resources and the use of taxpayer money to prosecute low-level crimes and keep petty offenders in jail for offenses such as retail theft below $300 and driving with a suspended license. She stressed the importance of using these resources to target serious offenders and felony crimes instead, and discontinue the past abuse of her office as a glorified “debt-collector.”

The audience also participated in the event, steering the conversation in multiple directions with questions for the States Attorney. As a result, Foxx discussed the discretion of her office to charge defendants for different types of crimes, the difficulties faced by immigrant communities, torture cases, child abuse, juvenile victims, growing instances of hate crime and the effectiveness of her bail reform strategy.

BGA Candid Conversations bring together prominent public figures and the public for conversations about good government issues. It’s one of the ways the BGA holds public officials accountable for their promises and actions.

Previously the BGA has hosted Candid Conversations with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, then Governor-elect Bruce Rauner, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and others.

Listen to the full conversation:

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Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Andy Shaw at Roosevelt university.
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Kim Foxx

Photos by Michen Dewey