A slowdown in the Cook County Court system now has several inmates spending years behind bars without ever being tried.
WGN Investigates first reported about the issue last month when WGN found an inmate locked up 10 and a half years without a trial. The state's attorney and the public defender’s office staying quiet on the story. But now there’s a second case.
Last month, WGN Investigates introduced viewers to Alex Daniel.
The 57-year-old has never been convicted of the murder charge but has been waiting ten and a half years just to go to trial.
On Thursday, the family of another man came forward.
Joseph White was booked on an attempted murder charge after being identified in a line-up seven years ago when he was 22. He is now 29 and still waiting for the case to go to court.
In the last couple of weeks, his family hired Attorney Sherry Joseph who has been trying to figure out the slowdown.
“The state keeps continuing this case, saying that they need more time to locate evidence and witnesses and he keeps remaining in custody in the Cook County Jail,” Joseph said.
In the last couple of weeks since WGN’s initial story aired, she said the state’s attorney’s office is moving fast. They presented him with a plea deal -- serve 90 days in a state prison and be released for time served.
“I think someone decided that they need to correct an error in the system. Someone remembered that this guy has been sitting in there without a trial for all these years without a trial and he has constitutional rights that have been violated so we need to fix this,” Joseph said.
White’s case is similar to Daniel, who is still in lockup as of May 17.
Meanwhile Sheriff Tom Dart wants the cases moved along. After all, it costs his department $50,000 a year to house an inmate.
“Huge cost to the tax payer when these cases grind through the system, but from a former prosecutor standpoint I can’t conceive what would complicate a case that would extend it beyond four or five years. I can’t conceive of it,” Dart said.
WGN Investigates reached out to the state’s attorney and public defender. No comment from them. They didn't comment on WGN Investigates initial story on Daniel.
As far as White, his attorney filed an order to have him discharged immediately saying the state violated his right to a speedy trial. She goes to court on that order on Monday.