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Meet the woman who wants to replace Anita Alvarez

Kim Foxx (Powell Photography)

Cabrini-Green native Kim Foxx believes she can do a better job

Kim Foxx has been a lawyer for 18 years and has been a prosecutor on some of Cook County’s most famous cases. Surrounded by over two dozen Black elected officials Dec. 8 at the Holiday Inn Merchandise Mart, Foxx accepted their endorsements and vowed to be a community advocate for fighting crime.

The married mother of two daughters is a graduate of Southern Illinois University. Foxx has prosecuted violent crimes like carjackings, murder, sexual assaults and an aggravated battery case in which youth were recruited by an adult to assault another adult by throwing acid in the victim’s face. But in addition to prosecuting some heinous crimes, Foxx has also worked for three years in the Cook County Guardians Office as an advocate for wards of the court. A sexual assault survivor herself, Foxx worked for several years in the sex crimes unit, prosecuting criminal priests, coaches, teachers and others who preyed on kids.

Foxx realizes her campaign got a huge boost from the incumbent Anita Alvarez over her handling of the Laquan McDonald case. Foxx vowed to fight crime no matter where it takes place, even if that is on the police force.

“State’s Attorney Alvarez has finally pressed charges—400 days after the murder of Laquan—against Officer Van Dyke. But what about the other officers involved? The officers who filed police reports that we now know to be false are still on the force,” she said. “We must ask the State’s Attorney’s office—are those officers witnesses on any pending cases? Are any of their other cases now under review? Have they testified in other cases that we must now reconsider?”

Those who stood with Foxx at the press conference said they believe she has the integrity to restore faith in the state’s attorney’s office that has been shattered by Alvarez. Many believe her background of growing up in public housing will allow her to be stern, yet compassionate to people who come through the justice system on a daily basis in Cook County.

With the county having one of the highest jail populations in the nation, Foxx believes sending everyone to jail is not the way to go, especially with so many of the jail population being people with mental health conditions and youth who have committed non-violent crimes but cannot afford bail.

“There is a lot of talk about restorative justice models and the Cook County juvenile courts are supposed to be structured in this model,” Foxx began. “But what happens is we only offer those services once people have been involved in the court system. So the holistic approach around restorative justice… if we’re only saving it to the people who’ve been caught up in the system, we’re really leaving a lot of people behind.”

She believes the State’s Attorney’s Office should be intervening in youth crime before it happens by investing in restorative justice programs in public schools throughout the county. The Chicago Teachers Union agrees with that approach and is throwing its support behind Foxx in the election. CTU cites nationwide studies that show Black kids are far more likely to receive harsher school discipline in the form of suspensions and expulsions than whites when kids misbehave.

“After the Derrion Albert murder there was a lot of focus on how to bring a culture of calm and how do we invest in resources in the school to help kids deal with these issues,” Foxx said. “They were able to reduce the number of incidents there. They did the same thing at Evanston Township High School with peer juries and their issues were minimized. If you do a hit and miss, here and there, then those are the results you are going to get. We need a real meaningful investment across the board in CPS. It’s the schools in those neighborhoods that are the least funded that have the most issues and need those services. We have to be mindful of how to get them those services.”

Foxx also spoke about her philosophy on prosecuting small crimes. Cities like New York City believe that prosecuting “quality of life” crimes like loitering, vandalism and public urination lead to a reduction in overall crime. Foxx said this is something that needs to be done on a case by case basis. Cops have complained in recent years they are arresting more people than ever before, but that county prosecutors often dismiss cases they do not deem significant enough or are too difficult to prove.

“I think fighting crime is a complicated issue,” Foxx said. “So for one kid who may tag a building because they are being goofy and don’t have the potential of being a serial criminal, if you lower the boom on him was that the right thing? If you see another person doing it consistently and you let them off the hook then they think they are going to get away with it. It’s a matter of looking at the individual cases and making sure that we’re identifying based off the facts of that individual what the punishment should be. It all comes down to how the community is best served based on the punishment that is meted out.”

After a lottery this week to determine positions on the ballot in March, Foxx won the top spot and will be first on the ballot followed by Alvarez and another challenger Donna More.

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