July 7, 2003

CTA Initiative Designed to Rid System of Lawbreakers

Repeatedly committing unlawful acts on Chicago Transit Authority property has resulted in the barring of Robert Ross from CTA property for a period of 18 months. Ross became the first individual to receive such an order under a Repeat Offender initiative launched by the CTA in October of 2002 to enhance customer safety and rid the system of lawbreakers.

Under the initiative, the CTA works in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department, Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Cook County Probation Office and Cook County Social Services, to ?exclude? ? or bar from CTA property ? any individual who, on more than one occasion within a year, commits acts in violation of state and municipal laws on CTA property.

On June 30, 2003, Ross pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court of Cook County to two counts of criminal trespassing for selling loose cigarettes and soliciting customers for cab rides while on CTA property. The offenses happened within two months of each other earlier this year. During sentencing, Judge Colleen Sheehan ordered Ross to stay away from CTA property for a period of 18 months. If he violates the order, he will automatically spend at least 300 days in jail. Since 1998, Ross has committed approximately 45 offenses on CTA property ranging from peddling transit cards to not paying his fare.

?Intrusive and annoying activities that take place on the system can diminish the quality of the public transit experience for our customers," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?The Repeat Offender initiative, with its ability to bar repeat troublemakers from CTA property, increases the deterrent factor for those thinking of participating in such activity."

Under the initiative, the police arrest and charge individuals when they:

Are found in any unauthorized area of CTA property, including the right of way

Use the transit system for any purpose other than transportation without the CTA's authorization

Commit violations of unlawful sales, solicitation and begging or unsafe conduct

The State's Attorney's Office prosecutes repeat offenders, seeking as part of any sentence an exclusion order prohibiting the repeat offender from entering or using the CTA system for a specified length of time. If any repeat offender violates conditions of his/her sentence, including the exclusion order, he or she will automatically receive jail time, the length of which is determined by a judge.

The CTA works with the police and State's Attorney's Office to help build cases against repeat offenders by providing background information about the offense, as well as witnesses. As offenders are barred from CTA property, CTA personnel will be supplied with photographs and information on ?excluded? offenders ? such as their name, physical description, length of time for exclusion and offense. CTA employees will notify the Chicago Police Department's Public Transportation Section immediately if an offender is found to be in violation of an exclusion order.

Members of the Cook County Probation and Social Services Departments do their part by monitoring repeat offenders who are ordered by the court to complete a designated number of community service hours.

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