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Wheels grinding slowly

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014

* Sun-Times

Judges in Cook County have begun revoking inmates’ sentences to boot camp and resentencing them instead to prison in response to a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that revealed hundreds of violent offenders were improperly sentenced to the program.

In November, the newspaper reported that violent criminals were being sent to boot camp, an alternative to prison with a focus on rehabilitation. Under Illinois law, judges are supposed to send only nonviolent criminals to the boot camp at the Cook County Jail.

In one case, a judge sentenced a convicted armed robber to the four-month boot-camp program rather than give him the sentence the law calls for — six to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Less than two years after completing the program, the man was accused of killing a college student. […]

After the Sun-Times’ investigation was published, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wrote to the county’s judges, asking them to confirm that 56 inmates who’d been sentenced to boot camp — Chaney among them — had been properly sentenced. Those inmates were being held in jail, awaiting placement in the program.

Since then, 26 inmates have been confirmed as eligible for boot camp and admitted into what’s formally called the Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center. Beside Chaney, judges also have revoked the boot-camp sentences of three other inmates and sent them to prison. The other cases are still pending, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Dart wrote that letter on December 10th. And in all that time they still have 26 cases still pending?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    I’m wondering if there is a lawyer out there who could tell me whether there are any legal issues with re-sentencing somebody who has already served a sentence imposed by a judge.

  2. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    “whether there are any legal issues with re-sentencing somebody who has already served a sentence imposed by a judge.”

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean, but some of the people detained in Cook County Jail pre-trial may be found not guilty and, therefore, would not be sentenced to any time by a judge.

    – MrJM

  3. - Lobo Y Olla - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    “six to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole.”

    As a side note, this is incorrect. Armed Robbery is a 50% crime with 3 yr MSR (formerly parole). Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy journalism.

  4. - I'm Strapped - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    I’m hung up on the thought process of sentencing someone convicted of a Forcible Felony (Armed Robbery) to boot camp, as is Sheriff Dart I guess.

  5. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:39 am:


    I guess I was confused. I thought that some of them had already served there sentence at boot camp. My question would relate to that, if that is true.

  6. - Joan P. - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    @ Demoralized - If the original sentence was an illegal one, there’s no problem, but the person would have to be given credit for the time already served.

  7. - Jim'e' - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    Geez, what is taking the judges so long to adjudicate those remaining 26 cases? it seems that the court system is accountable to no one. Where is Judge Evans?

  8. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    If I was resentenced, I would be kicking myself for not calling no-backsies at my sentencing hearing. doh!

  9. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    the wheels of justice in Cook County grind exceedingly slowly. it’s wait, wait, wait to get a case in line. on the other hand, trials do not take California tv trial justice time. OJ would have been tried, and I believe found guilty, in a week at the Hotel California.

  10. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    If a defendant entered a plea of guilty for a specific sentence, and that was not a legal sentence, the plea of guily, along with the illegal sentence would be vacated. That means its back to square one in terms on resolving the case.Someone who plead guilty to armed robbery for Boot Camp might decide he wants to fight his case rather than plead to IDOC. That is the defendant’s right and that may be why things are not moving fast enough to please everyone here.

  11. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    Sometimes a DA cuts a deal and reduces the charges if it looks like the case would be hard to prove. A choice of some time to be served vs. possibly losing the case.
    Not saying it is the right decision, just observing how these cases can occur.

  12. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    I’m not a criminal lawyer, but in discussions with criminal lawyers about why the difference in prison facilities doesn’t create some sort of equal protection argument (white collar crime goes to club fed, blue collar with same sentence goes to B-movie hell), I was told that the law views these matters as largely independent of what leads to the conviction and that there’s wide discretion in “where” and “how” the time is done. Just passing that along FWIW.

  13. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    @Joan and West Side:

    Thanks for the info.

  14. - What is to be done? - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 7:19 pm:

    Judges ignoring Minimum Sentence Requirements for violent crime is a clear dereliction of duty.

    The Police Investigate and Arrest…
    Lawyers prosecute and defend.
    Juries deliberate
    Judges Sentence. Or Deliberate and Sentence in cases of a Bench Trial or Plea.

    When one part of the system refuses to operate Properly due to political pressure…the system fails the Honest Tax Paying Citizens and needs to be Replaced at all Cost.

  15. - Ferris Bueller - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 9:01 pm:

    People don’t understand the realities of these sentencing laws. Armed robbery is 6 to 30. Armed robbery with a gun (it’s rare to have an armed robbery without one) adds 15 years to the sentence. That means for a first time offender the actual minimum sentence is 21 years. I’m not soft on crime (believe me, I’ve added my share of inmates to IDOC) but there are times where even the hardest prosecutor looks at a case (like the above one where you have a 17 or 18 year old defendant who was the accountable offender (like a lookout to a robbery) and it was a BB gun). So reasonable prosecutors and judges look at boot camp (which is a huge success in terms of Recividism) and think that maybe this one defendant will do better with boot camp than a 21 year sentence. For being the lookout. And in many cases, no injury occurred. But let’s take all discretion away and throw the book at everyone. That should solve everything.

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