Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Convicted burglar held in prison nearly five months too long

Friday, June 05, 2015
Chicago Tribune
by Steve Mills and Todd Lighty

Malik Erkins

Malik Erkins
Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune
Malik Erkins, 18, now lives in an apartment in Chicago Heights. He was held in prison months after he was supposed to be released because of an apparent paperwork error.
Malik Erkins, 18, now lives in an apartment in Chicago Heights. He was held in prison months after he was supposed to be released because of an apparent paperwork error. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune)

When Malik Erkins went to prison last June for breaking into two cars, he knew his exact release date: Dec. 28, 2014.

But that date came and went with the Chicago Heights teenager still behind bars, fighting for his freedom.

An apparent combination of paperwork errors and bureaucratic glitches kept Erkins locked up until mid-May — nearly five months late — when he was released from the downstate Robinson Correctional Center.

Erkins, who readily admits committing the two break-ins, had no problem doing the prison time he deserved. Serving more than his sentence, though, was maddening.

"It sucks," Erkins, now 18, said in a recent interview at his home. "There was no reason I had to spend an extra five months of my life in prison."

The mixup on Erkins, which the Tribune analyzed through prison and court records, is a product of a complex and sometimes archaic criminal justice system that, at many stages, continues to rely on handwritten documents for thousands of defendants who wend their way through the Cook County courts and enter Illinois prisons each year.

Indeed, the office of Dorothy Brown, Cook County's circuit court clerk, has been frequently criticized for its lethargic pace of modernization.

What's more, Erkins' case reflects a system susceptible to human error, one that seems to reflexively turn aside pleas from prisoners. Erkins repeatedly wrote to Brown's office and filed motions with the court seeking his release. He also said he asked records staff at Robinson Correctional to acknowledge that he should be freed, all to no avail.

When he was finally set free, he said he was given about $30 he had in his prison account, another $10 and a train ticket home.

"All they told me was that they fixed my papers and that I was getting out," Erkins said. "They didn't say sorry or nothing like that."

Nicole Wilson of IDOC said officials determined Erkins' release date based on documents from Cook County that Erkins brought with him when he arrived to begin serving his sentence. They had no control over how long he served and followed standard procedure in figuring it out.

"If there's a mistake in that, it's not IDOC's responsibility," she said. "We can't correct it. We have to calculate (prison) time based on the orders we receive, and that's what we did. We followed proper protocol and followed the orders we had."

Jalyne Strong, Brown's spokeswoman, said the clerk's office sent the correct sentencing paperwork to the corrections department.

We didn't screw up any paperwork," Strong said. "It appears the issue is with the correctional facility. They made the error. It was a breakdown on their part."

Erkins, who had a juvenile record, was arrested Sept. 1, 2013, after Chicago police spotted him and another teen walking in the 1500 block of South Avers Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood with a GPS device, a camera and other items. Erkins and the second suspect, then 19, admitted to the officers that they had broken into two cars and stolen the items, apparently to pawn, according to court records. Both were taken into custody, and Erkins remained locked up.

On June 5, 2014, Erkins pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary as part of a deal in which he would be sentenced to three years in prison on both counts. According to the deal, the sentences would run at the same time, or concurrently, instead of one after the other, or consecutively.

Recent Headlines

Illinois Supreme Court sets civil, criminal fee schedule
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Seniors: Are your Cook County property taxes delinquent? Your home could be at risk
Thursday, February 14, 2019
WLS Abc 7 Chicago

Editorial: Look out, taxpayers: When governments have more pensioners than employees
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of accused criminals on electronic monitoring are missing
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Glenview adopts Cook County minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, effective July 1
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit over property tax assessments survives challenge
Monday, February 11, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Thursday, February 07, 2019
Special to

Cook County Jail detainee dies at Stroger Hospital
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office Says Its Gang Database Is on Lockdown, but Questions Remain
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Pro Publica

Charges dismissed against man accused of threatening judge
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Daily Herald

Double Down: Twin Brothers Rehabbing Chicago
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Defender

Slowik: Residents, officials celebrate rehab work at public housing sites
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Daily Southtown

Class action: Evanston can't charge 'convenience fees' to people paying tickets online
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Cook County Rercord

390 arrested in nationwide prostitution sting, including 38 in Cook County
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

As we build a road, we will protect the forest preserves
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Campaign to weed out European buckthorn across the suburbs
Tuesday, February 05, 2019
Northwest Herald

Airbnb hosts in Cook County earned $109 million last year: report
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County senior exemption deadline extended
Monday, February 04, 2019
Daily Herald

Decadelong legal battle over Barrington Hills horse farm — eyed as huge forest preserve — may be nearing resolution
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: Protect iconic forest preserve from concrete overkill
Sunday, February 03, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.