By Chinta Strausberg
The guest speaker at a Veterans Day recognition breakfast at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters held Saturday was Judge William Hooks, a retired Lt. Col. Marines, is assigned to the Criminal Division Circuit Court of Cook County, helps veterans who have committed felonies.
Hooks said his first time being at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition was when the civil rights organization was named Operation Breadbasket when he was a high school student.
Today, Judge Hooks is assigned to the Veterans Treatment Court presiding over their probations, which includes treatment with the VA. Some of the veterans’ cases are for murder and another 50-60 is sex-related cases. Most of the cases involve children.
“I have a number of narcotic cases, white collar cases, racketeering cases, hatred crime cases and cases involving the torture of black suspects in connection with” the late Chicago Police Department Cmdr. Jon Burge. “I am one of the few judges who get those cases,” Hooks said.
Explaining, Hooks said, “One of my specialties is to be the presiding judge of the Criminal Division’s Veteran Treatment Court which is those veterans being arrested for felony cases…. In most situations, they are the result of” poverty, lack of car and assistance and an “ungrateful nation, city and state.”
For two-years, Hooks has them on a probation program with the help of full-services of the Veterans Administration agencies. “I try to make those veterans better with two-years with me than they were before they were arrested. If they succeed, I have all branches of service in there even a few females.”
Hooks said most go back to Vietnam. He even had some Korean veterans. “When the parades and holidays are over, they go back to where they are suffering because they served in the defense of this country.”
Although most of the veteran’s cases are felonies, Hooks said most are shoplifting, DUI’s and small drug cases. Most of the cases are felonies. Most of them I call crimes of poverty.”
Hooks, who works with schools, help to graduate and get the veteran back on the right track.
Having served 20 years in the military, Hooks served during the Cold War. He worked in the signals electronic warfare. He was charged of those Marines who intercepted military communications from foreign services, interpret and analyze it and recommend military action. He also guarded U.S. communications.
Having worked around the world, Hooks graduated from Army Intelligence School and went through Labor and Marine Intelligence Schools.
When he was discharged, Hooks, who was born in Memphis, TN, joined the Marine reserves. He went back in as a Marine Court lawyer and when he left, he taught trial practice to soldiers around the U.S.
Rev. Janette Wilson, national executive director of the PUSH Excel program, welcomed the veterans thanking them for “putting their lives on the line.”