Ald. Cappleman resolute to fix ‘broken system’ after apparent knife attack

Photo: Courtesy Cappleman for Change.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th Ward) says he will work to create measures that would prevent people with long arrest records from “falling through the cracks” and allow authorities to bring them to help and justice, following an incident in which he was chased by a woman apparently carrying a knife in his ward Friday.

The woman, who he said goes by several names but identified her has Charmane Boone, boasts that she has been arrested over 400 times, Cappleman said.

“This raises the issue about a very broken system,” Cappleman said. “Something should have been flagged once you get over so many arrests. Clearly, Charmane Boone was not hearing the message that society thinks she should hear.”

Cappleman was walking near Broadway and Montrose Friday, when he came across Boone drinking a can of beer and called the police. She reached into her blouse and walked toward him, at which point he began to run from her, fearing that she had a razor blade or knife. Boone has a history in the neighborhood of terrorizing neighbors, pulling knives on them and sometimes robbing them.

“People are intimidated to see her. We can’t have that in this community. That’s not good for anyone,” Cappleman said.

Boone, 51, was charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault and batter, police told the Chicago Tribune. Court documents indicate that she has been arrested more than 300 times since 1986 for drug possession, retail theft and prostitution, and has been convicted 10 times, according to the paper.

“Her life is out of control. I witnessed her have altercation after altercation four different times with four different people,” he said. “She’s got a pretty serious mental illness and pretty serious drug and alcohol problems.”

Cappleman says he wants Boone and others like her in his ward to find help, and he’s continuing to work towards solutions in the form of social services and advocacy so that help is available — because it works, he said. Cappleman recalls a recent success story that is the result of another altercation he had with someone in his ward. Emma Green was on her 202nd arrest shortly after threatening Cappleman when she was offered treatment for alcoholism through the Women’s Rehabilitation Alternative Probation in Cook County Criminal Court and completed the program, he said.

“I saw her two days ago, and I didn’t recognize her at first,” he said. “She thanked me for calling the police and being a court advocate and standing up in court to get justice. She said that doing that got her the help she needed.”

Early next month, Cappleman plans to meet with the CEOs of over 30 social services organizations including Heartland Alliance, Thresholds, Sarah’s Circle and others to craft a strategy that will prevent people like Boone from going through the justice system without help. One of the first orders of business is to identify areas where there is duplication in services and at what point in the system people who need help are lost, he said.

“We are going to find out what’s the best way of making use of our limited resources and look at evidence-based best practices,” Cappleman said. “Right now, my plan is to work with collaborate with the community and see how we can make things work better. That will be huge.”

Cappleman calls Green a success story, but Boone might not get the same help due to her violent crime record. Instead, he’d like to see her without access to the public, drugs and alcohol.

“I would like to see her in a highly structured environment, first of all, where she is getting some help for her alcohol and drug issues,” he said. “This is pretty dramatic, but for someone who has had hundreds and hundreds of arrests, it seems appropriate.”

As for his own health, Cappleman said that he is “fine” and that residents of his ward shouldn’t get frustrated over the news, but to keep working with their neighbors to make the community better.

“[Residents] should keep working with their neighbors, keep working with CAPS and their alderman and their police and their business community and the schools and the churches. Let’s keep working together to address this. It has to be more than chasing people who commit crimes away, it has involve other types of intervention to make it really work.”