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Sheriff: Benefits to boot camp

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

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Updated: November 10, 2013 6:21AM

The public deserves an informed debate with regard to both punishing and rehabilitating gun offenders in Cook County. As a former prosecutor, I have been extremely vocal regarding the need to stiffen Illinois’ gun laws and reduce gun violence, but we need to approach that process thoughtfully. As such, we should be encouraging programs that work [“Top cop, prosecutor want to keep gun felons out of boot camp,” Oct. 4].

The Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center (VRIC, otherwise known as “Boot Camp”) is one such program, with a higher success rate than most any other rehabilitation initiative. It instills the type of discipline and job skills these individuals need to succeed on the outside and become productive members of society. The three-year recidivism rate for the Illinois Department of Corrections is 51.7 percent (Pew). The corresponding recidivism rate for VRIC is 20 percent.

As someone who at times has been critical of the judiciary, I feel the criticism of the judges involved with the boot camp program to be misplaced. Judges such as Judge Vincent Gaughan are some of the most engaged, thoughtful judges I have encountered. While no program can guarantee success, the vast majority of men who go through VRIC are successfully rehabilitated and deterred from lives of crime.

We should be acknowledging what is already working and the thoughtful members of the judiciary who are not satisfied with the status quo but are trying to make real changes to help our communities.

Thomas J. Dart,
Cook County sheriff

Majority rules

Your Monday editorial had it exactly right: “When one side threatens to trash the American economy to get its way, there can be no negotiations.” President Barack Obama was elected twice. He ran on his plan for health care. He compromised on many aspects of his plan, including a single payer option, to appease the Republicans. Both houses of Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law.

Now Republicans who want to defund the Affordable Care Act say they will shut down the government if they don’t get their way. This is extortion and a threat the very basis of our democracy, majority rule.

Fran Sampson, Oak Park

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