According to news reports, the 27-year-old Balfour was paroled in 2005 at the age of 25 after serving only 7 years of his sentence for attempted murder, car jacking and possessing stolen vehicles. That means Balfour was about 17 years old (he was charged in 1998) when he tried to murder someone. I can't account for why Jennifer Hudson's sister would want to marry a guy a short time after he was released from prison for attempted murder, but the fact that he was out on the streets after such a relatively short time in prison presented the opportunity for him to commit even more violent crimes. Hudson's sister became estranged from Balfour in recent months, and he had apparently been making threats to his wife's family. Hudson's sister had recently accused him of stealing a car.
In 1997 while the 17-year-old Balfour was jacking cars and trying to kill people, Obama was working with Ayers to water down a juvenile justice reform bill advocated by the state's prosecutors to ensure that guys like Balfour didn't get locked up for long prison sentences. The Weekly Standard reported:
Meanwhile, Obama worked closely with the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus to slow the bill's progress, expressing skepticism about the blended sentencing provisions. While one report speaks of Obama negotiating with Cook County state's attorney Richard Devine for a compromise, there is good reason to believe that Obama's actual aim was to scuttle the entire bill. We have this on the authority of someone who may very well be Michelle Obama herself. Michelle Obama organized a University of Chicago panel about Bill Ayers's crime book in November 1997, just as the battle over the juvenile justice bill was heating up. That panel featured appearances by some of the key figures discussed in Ayers's book, along with Obama himself, who was identified in the press release as "working to block proposed legislation that would throw more juvenile offenders into the adult system." In effect, then, this public event was a joint Obama-Ayers effort to sink the juvenile justice bill-Obama's decision to plug Ayers's book in the Chicago Tribune the following month was part of the sameDespite Obama's opposition, the juvenile justice reform legislation became law. Those Chicago judges elected by the Democratic machine obviously favor Obama's policies of offering juveniles lenient sentences as evidenced by Balfour's short stay in prison. Sen. Obama asked fellow Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson to perform the national anthem at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Obama released this statement on the tragedy:
In January 1998, a front-page headline in the Defender touted Obama's claim that the juvenile justice bill might be on the verge of failure. Obama hoped that black caucus opposition to the sentencing provisions might be matched by concerns among some Republicans that the bill could force expensive jail construction (based on the prospect that the deterrent effect of blended sentencing might fail, thereby forcing more juveniles into adult prisons). Obama's hopes were wildly off-base. In the end, the juvenile justice bill passed overwhelmingly. Given his ambitions for higher office, Obama was no doubt reluctant to vote against the final bill. A last-minute, minor and uncontroversial adjustment to the blended-sentencing provisions by the governor appears to have provided enough political cover for the bill's sharpest critics including Obama to come around and support it.
"Michelle and I were absolutely heartbroken to learn about this unimaginable tragedy, and we want Jennifer to know that she is in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. We also pray for the swift and safe return of her young nephew."
It is doubtful Sen. Obama has given any thought to the fact that weakening sentences for juvenile offenders has had consequences in home town of Chicago. Murders in the Windy City are running at near-record levels this year. The South Side from where he hails is a hot bed for violent crimes. And most of the crimes are being committed by young offenders. Ironically, no group of voters in Illinois support Obama more strongly than African-Americans. Yet they are the ones who suffer the most from these violent crimes.