July 25, 2003

CTA Initiative Designed to Rid System of Lawbreakers

The Chicago Transit Authority's initiative to rid its system of lawbreakers is picking up steam as two more repeat offenders have been barred from CTA property. The sentences were handed down in the Cook County Circuit Court yesterday, less than one month since the first barring of a repeat lawbreaker was issued as a part of a criminal sentence.

Repeatedly committing unlawful acts on Chicago Transit Authority property has resulted in the barring of Daryl Thomas, age 47, of Chicago, and Derrick Sullivan, age 39, of Chicago, from CTA property for a period of one year.

On February 27, Thomas was arrested for criminal trespass at the Blue Line LaSalle station platform for refusing to either leave the station or board a train when asked by CTA personnel. Thomas has several prior arrests on CTA property.

On July 15, Sullivan was arrested for reckless conduct after officers from the Chicago Police Department's Public Transportation Section observed him bumping into and jostling CTA customers at the Red Line Sox-35th station. Sullivan has prior arrests on CTA property, as well.

Thomas and Sullivan appeared before Judge Mark Ballard in the Circuit Court of Cook County on July 24 where both men were sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, plus a one-year ban from the CTA system.

"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."

The CTA launched the repeat offender initiative to enhance the riding experience of its customers by ridding 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.

To date, the following repeat offenders have been barred from the CTA system:

- On July 14, Anthony Starnes, age 37, of Chicago, became the second person to be banned from the CTA under the repeat offender initiative. Starnes, with 15 previous CTA arrests, was sentenced to time served (49 days), plus a one-year ban from the CTA system due to criminal trespass charges stemming from an incident at the Clark & Lake Blue Line subway station.

- On June 30, Robert Ross, age 41, of Chicago, became the first person to be barred from the CTA under the repeat offender initiative. Ross pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal trespass for selling loose cigarettes and soliciting customers for cab rides while on CTA property. He was ordered to stay away from CTA property for a period of 18 months. Since 1998, Ross had committed approximately 45 offenses on CTA property ranging from peddling transit cards to not paying his fare.

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; or
- Commit violations such as 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 are supplied with photographs and information on ?excluded? offenders ? such as their name, physical description, length of time for exclusion and offense. CTA employees notify the Chicago Police Department's Public Transportation Section immediately if an offender is found to be in violation of an exclusion order.

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