Calls for sentencing reform after Chicago mother pushing stroller shot dead

CHICAGO -- August has been Chicago’s most violent month Chicago in twenty years. 

One of the victims from last weekend’s bloodshed was 32-year-old Nykea Aldridge. She was on her way home Friday from registering one of her four children for school, pushing a stroller with her one-month-old baby along a sidewalk on Chicago’s South Side, when she took her last step.

Aldridge wasn’t the target of the gunfire, but she’s dead all the same.

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Nykea Aldridge.

Provided to WBBM-TV

“She wasn’t aware her short life would stand as an example of what is a clear failure of the criminal justice system here in Chicago,” said Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent.

Police arrested two convicted felons for Aldridge’s shooting -- brothers with known gang connections. Neither served their full sentence in prison. One got out in February, and the other was released just over two weeks ago.

To keep prisons from overcrowding, most gun offenders in Illinois serve only 50 percent of their sentences.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that much change.

“We keep coming upon the same facts -- repeat gun offenders, who continually run in and out of the criminal justice system with no consequences, who are back on the streets wreaking havoc,” Emanuel said in a Monday press conference.

Offenders serve more than half their sentences only for the most serious crimes, like murder.

Emanuel and the police are pushing for higher bonds to keep repeat gun offenders off the streets while awaiting trial. They also want to impose mandatory minimum sentences that would remove judicial discretion in sentencing.

“Whatever punishment they get, then they should have to abide by that and serve their time. That’s the bottom line,” Johnson said.

Diann Aldridge, Nykea’s mother, expressed grief in her daughter’s murder.

“Just a life gone too, too soon,” Aldridge said. “She was taken away from us.”

Nykea Aldridge is first cousins with NBA superstar Dwyane Wade, who recently signed a contract​ to play for the Chicago Bulls. Had Aldridge not been related to him, it is unlikely her murder would have received so much attention. It was just one of 11 the Chicago Tribune reported this past weekend.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.