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Booted out of boot camp: Judges resentence 4 violent criminals to prison

Malik Chaney

Malik Chaney

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Updated: February 22, 2014 6:04AM



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 probation. Less than two years after completing the program, the man was accused of killing a college student.

Another convicted robber, Malik Chaney, is among four inmates whose boot-camp sentences have been revoked following the Sun-Times investigation. Last week, Chaney, 20, of Chicago, appeared before Cook County Judge Dennis Porter, who accepted a prosecutor’s request to revoke Chaney’s sentence to boot camp.

Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Christa Bowden argued that Chaney’s convictions for robbery and attempted robbery disqualified him from the program, and Porter resentenced Chaney, giving him three years in prison.

On Feb. 19, 2012, Chaney and an unknown accomplice approached someone in the 7600 block of South Phillips, asked for a dollar, then went through the victim’s pockets and stole his wallet, according to court records.

On June 7, 2012, Chaney and an accomplice stole a cellphone from another victim on the same block, records show.

Chaney pleaded guilty to robbery and attempted robbery and was sentenced to probation on Oct. 25, 2012. But he violated his probation by committing a theft and was resentenced on Nov. 8, 2013, to boot camp.

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.

Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, said her office has been reviewing boot-camp sentences and moving to revoke any improper sentences.

“As we have in the past, we will continue to object to boot-camp sentences when prison time is the proper, legal and fitting sentence,” Daly said.

Email: fmain@suntimes.com



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