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Reboletti Seeks to Abolish Cook County Bott Camp Sentencing

Thursday, January 23, 2014
Chicago Tribune
by Meredith Van Kampen

In the wake of reports detailing hundreds of cases where Cook County judges sentenced violent offenders to a boot camp program reserved for only nonviolent offenders, State Representative Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) is proposing legislation to eliminate Cook County’s boot camp program, citing gross lapses in sentencing oversight. “At each checkpoint in the system, there’s been an evident lack of oversight and a lack of following statutes. Until these issues are corrected and a working mechanism for checks and balances is in place, we are going to continue to have serious problems with the boot camp program at the cost of public safety,” said Reboletti, who is a former prosecutor. Reports of improper sentencing were first revealed by a Chicago Sun-Times investigation in November. The Sun-Time’s story highlighted the case of a 19-year-old armed robber improperly sentenced to the boot camp program – officially known as the Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center – in 2007. Less than a year and a half after completing the program, he allegedly killed a college student and is currently awaiting trial on a murder charge. Since the report surfaced, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wrote a letter to the judges asking them to verify that the 56 inmates who’d been sentenced to boot camp and were awaiting placement in the program had been properly sentenced. Meanwhile, only 26 inmates have been confirmed as eligible in the program, 4 have been disqualified, and another 26 cases are still pending. “There’s been a breakdown in the system. Illinois clearly rules out the lighter boot camp sentence as an opportunity for the most serious, violent offenders, but there remains a small group who choose to overlook the law. Unfortunately, nobody appears prepared to ask questions or take ownership of the errors,” added Reboletti. “I think it’s gotten to the point where boot camp is irrefutably broken.” Reboletti’s legislation would abolish the county’s boot camp program. Under the proposal, a person sentenced to the boot camp program may continue to serve in the program until successfully completing the program or being removed for disciplinary reasons. Reboletti also indicated that he plans to explore the option of calling for legislative hearings into exactly how violent criminals were repeatedly allowed to participate in the boot camp. For real-time updates, follow Rep. Reboletti on Twitter @DennisReboletti. For more information, please contact State Rep. Dennis Reboletti at 630-628-0045 or repreboletti@gmail.com.


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