Saturday, October 29, 2011

Heroin dealer off the streets for 12 years

A McHenry County Circuit Court judge sent a heroin dealer off to a State penitentiary for 12 years yesterday in a plea deal involving a felony charge of drug-induced homicide. Erik Strickland had apparently been a regular source of heroin to the man, who died early in 2010.

The "deal" resulted in a conviction for delivery of a controlled substance (heroin) and not on the charge of drug-induced homicide. That's what happens in "deals". A trial is avoided. The risk for the prosecutor of losing (a conviction) is avoided. The offender goes to prison. He knows the deal he is getting, rather than risking a longer sentence, if he loses the fight in court.

Is 12 years enough? The family of the man who died may not think so. The police may not think so. Strickland has a long record. He knows the "system" well. I met Strickland and his wife about three years ago. At the time I was unaware of his extensive criminal history.

I met him after he was hassled one night by a deputy, reportedly at gunpoint, according to a witness who observed the traffic stop from across the street. I was able to track him down through a contact at a Crystal Lake business. That was before he delivered the heroin that caused the death.

Do persons with criminal history get hassled in McHenry County? You bet? I'm talking about "illegally" hassled. There is no doubt about it. And, when that happens, the entire criminal justice systems starts to break down.

Sure, the cops have a hard time. But we must be able to rely on them not to break the law themselves, when they are enforcing it. I strongly favor good, strong, LEGAL police work. And I not only favor it, I demand it.

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