At a forum in Evanston, Republican state senate candidate Glenn Farkas suggested shipping violent criminals from Illinois to China as a cost-saving measure.

“China’s taken a lot of other stuff from us. Why don’t we outsource some of these prisons,” Farkas said. “We’d probably get better deal if we sent them over to China and let them house them.”

Most other candidates at the Thursday evening session at Haven Middle School sponsored by the Central Street Neighobrs Associaion focused on reducing prison costs by sending fewer non-violent offenders to prison in the first place.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel said keeping an inmate in prison costs taxpayers over $16,000 a year. “The majority are in for non-violent drug offenses,” Gabel said. “They could better serve their time not in prison, but at home with ankle bracelets.”

Her Republican challenger, Eric Lieberman, said he agreed tha sending fewer offenders to jail could save a lot of money and that people who “are not violent, not harmful to us” should not be thrown into jail.

Laura Fine, the Democrat seeking the 17th District house seat, said the state should focus on rehabilitation programs so offenders can contribute to society.

And her opponent, Kyle Frank, said the state needs to improve educational opportunities so fewer young people will resort to a life of crime.

In an aside, Lieberman, an Evanston resident, claimed that Evanston’s murder rate is now has risen to be half as much as Chicago’s.

That drew a quick rejoinder from Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who was serving as a stand-in on the panel for state senate candidate Daniel Biss, who had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t attend the session.

Tisdahl said Evanston’s crime rate is continuing to decline — to just one murder so far this year, although she added that “even one is too many.”

FBI Uniform Crime reports show that Chicago had a murder rate of just under 1.6 per 10,000 population in 2010 and 2011.

In 2010, when Evanson had five homicides, its highest number in more than 10 years, the rate here was 0.7 per 10,000 population, or just over 40 percent of the Chicago rate.

In 2011, with three homicides, the rate declined to 0.4 per 10,000 population, or just under 30 percent of Chicago’s rate.

Evanston has averaged about 2.2 homicides per year over the past decade, which is just under 0.3 per 10,000 residents — or less than 20 percent of Chicago’s rate.

Related story

Video replay of the candidate forum

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Is Glenn Farkas serious? And Lieberman dissing Evanston?

    Not even sure what to say after reading this.

    Mr. Farkas was kidding, right?  Still trying to get my jaw up off the floor.

    Mr. Lieberman – with just a bit of research you can present facts instead of made-up numbers.


    1. We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers

      Sara, being a Republican means that you get to make up your own facts, figures, and economic theories.

      Consider Neil Newhouse from the Romney campaign:

      Newhouse suggested the problem was with the fact-checkers, not the facts themselves: "Fact-checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs and you know what? We're not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." [, 8/28/12]

      So, if Lieberman declares that Evanston is having a crime wave, or Mittens declares that unemployment is higher today than when Obama took over, or  Ayn Ryan says that he ran a two hour marathon…that's fine.    The same is true when they deny evolution and climate change, or spout 'trickle down' economic theories.  Why let evidence get in the way?

      Perhaps they really believe these statements in their own minds….who are we to argue with 'faith'?  That's why we need 'faith based' education, health care, economics, and legal theories.

  2. Fact check


    We need at  leasr 150,000 new jobs per month just to handle new entries. The reason unemployment is down is that people have stopped looking for work. Unemployment is at least 11%. Both parties need new teleprompters.

  3. A Couple of Good Ideas

    Mr. Farkas, that was a brilliant idea. I can’t imagine any clear thinking person, regardless of political party, not jumping on the bandwagon. It is about time we get even with China.

    Robyn Gabel also had a very good idea depending on what would be defined as a non-violate crime. I would love to see state and local politicians wearing ankle bracelets. I believe that Mayor Tisdahl’s promoting of her favorite candidates at city events is a non-violate crime. Thank you, Robin, for bring this up but the best thing you can do for all citizens of the state is to lead the charge to evict Mike Madigan from his leadership post in the Legislature. 

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