Overcrowding sends youthful offenders to prison instead of boot camp

2012-06-08T07:00:00Z 2012-06-08T10:48:47Z Overcrowding sends youthful offenders to prison instead of boot campBy Edith Brady-Lunny |

BLOOMINGTON — Two recent McLean County cases reflect a policy change that means some of the state’s youngest inmates are being sent to prison for years instead of an intensive boot camp for months, further illustrating the problems caused by Illinois’ overcrowded prison system.

Inmates required to serve 85 percent of their sentences are not eligible for Impact Incarceration, a program for offenders ages 17 to 35 who are fit enough to handle the military-style regimen and who meet certain guidelines.

Assignment to Impact Incarceration is based on the offender’s risk level, medical and mental health history, and program space, said IDOC spokeswoman Stacey Solano. The state’s two adult boot camps, in Dixon Springs and DuQuoin, are at capacity with 452 prisoners, with a waiting list of more than 400.

Solano said the 85-percent policy has been in place at least a year, since S.A. Godinez took over as director of the agency in May 2011. IDOC declined to address the agency’s population issue and its possible link to the limitations on boot camp admissions.

In one McLean County case, Tyler Hunt, 21, suspected something was wrong during processing at Stateville Correctional Center, when he was placed in a line with inmates headed to prison instead of boot camp.

Hunt pleaded guilty in February to a Class 1 felony for firing a gun several times into a Normal residence last summer. McLean County Judge Robert Freitag sentenced Hunt to eight years in prison, but recommended him for boot camp.

“I didn’t go to the boot camp line as I thought I would. I was very concerned,” Hunt told Freitag at a recent hearing to reconsider his sentence.

Hunt said state records indicated he was sentenced for a Class X offense that would keep him from qualifying for boot camp. The classification later was corrected, but Hunt still was not allowed in boot camp.

Hunt’s lawyer, Steve Skelton, contacted IDOC but received no response.

“We have a young man who anticipated a release in September 2012 if he was given the opportunity for boot camp. I find this an extremely troubling and disturbing case,” said Skelton.

Hunt’s case and others illustrate the challenges of a prison network that has increased by about 4,000 inmates in two years, said John Maki, director of the John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison monitoring group.

“The IDOC has some innovative programs, but you can’t do those things for low-level offenders when you’re bursting at the seams,” he said. “It’s a problem for the courts, the lawyers and the IDOC. It’s really a problem for the offenders and the community.”

On Monday, 18-year-old Dalton Starkey was given six years for aggravated discharge of a firearm for his part in an incident last summer when another person fired a gun. Freitag told Starkey that while he would refer him for the boot camp program, he was not optimistic about his chances because of the 85-percent rule.

Starkey’s lawyer, Hal Jennings, thinks prison overcrowding has contributed to the IDOC policy shift.

“The problem is the numbers the state is dealing with and the costs,” said Jennings, adding he worries about the safety of his 5-foot-7, 140-pound client.

“My concern is his ability to survive,” said Jennings, a concern shared by Starkey’s father.

“I truly believe Dalton is one of those people who is ready to make a change and get away from the gangs. Boot camp would be good not only because it’s less time but because it separates him from the gangs,” said Russ Starkey.

Without boot camp, Hunt will serve about four years under a revised sentence handed down by Freitag that takes into account the 85-percent rule not considered in his initial sentence.

Boot camp terms run from 120 to 180 days.

In remarks to Hunt, Freitag repeated what he always says about an Impact Incarceration referral: a judge can find a defendant eligible and recommend him, but IDOC has the final say.

Freitag also said he still thinks Hunt meets the criteria for boot camp, an opinion he expressed in a May 10 letter to Alex Dawson, warden of Logan Correctional Center, where Hunt is housed.

“I am a strong proponent of the Impact program, and have confidence that it would well serve this young man. My only request of you is that this inmate’s situation be given a second look, and that consideration be given to allowing him into the program,” Freitag wrote.

Asked about the letter, Dawson said such decisions are made before an inmate arrives at a prison. IDOC would not answer questions about Hunt’s placement, citing confidentiality rules.

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(39) Comments

  1. Jose
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    Jose - June 15, 2012 10:50 am
    Outside of abortion clinics must be OK, then. And supermarket parking lots. And cutting propane lines to a person's house should be encouraged...?

    How's that concealed carry working out for ya? Can't wait 'til my youngest can pack in your neighborhood!!
  2. Jose
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    Jose - June 15, 2012 10:42 am
    Kinda like your use of "disingenuine" and, alternatively, "disenguine"?
  3. Jose
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    Jose - June 15, 2012 10:40 am
    It was a Nigerian proverb, actually.

    You wouldn't get it, because the proverb emphasizes the values of extended family relationships, parental care, self-sacrificing concern for others, sharing, hospitality, all LIBERAL values, that in spite of your mealy-mouthed hypocrisy, is exemplified in Ecclesiastes 4:9,12.

    What we have instead is a conservative-hysteria-led melange of nuclear families with the authoritarian father "in charge"; single moms who face troubles at every turn while the sperm-donors are dismissed with a "boys will be boys" winking at their amoral behavior; conservative "concerns" for cutting social service and other safety nets because of "cost"; selfishness and blindness to others' misfortunes, dismissively classed as "bad luck" and "poor choices", and xenophobic attacks on those who have no other options -- "if you don't like it, just move!"

    If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much. Or does that only apply to the "pre-born"?? What idiotic regressive PC term is THAT?
  4. prettyliberalchristian
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    prettyliberalchristian - June 10, 2012 11:49 pm
    I don't see any comments on here that reflect the truth about Tyler Hunt's family. His parents are hard working, down to earth people. They are not gangsters, or drug dealers, or abusive or neglectful to their children.

    Tyler made a terrible, terrible, decision the night he committed his crime. Regardless of what sentence he is given, please do not jump to conclusions about what kind of family he comes from. It is easy to jump to conclusions, but please don't. Instead, I will say a prayer for everyone involved in these situations - the victims, the perpetrators, the families of both, and all of those in the criminal justice system.
  5. rocker51
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    rocker51 - June 10, 2012 3:49 am
    How about these "kids" try and break the mold on their own. Why should anyone have to find something for them to do to keep them out of trouble? It's called ambition, initiative, drive...... pick one. How about getting off their butts and getting a job? If these two young men hadn't gotten bored while they were waiting for someone to find them something to do with their "spare time" they may not be on their way to prison. Most people weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Where is it written if you are underprivelged you are entitled all through life.......break the mold!
  6. Martin
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    Martin - June 10, 2012 3:44 am
    He had a Gun!! I don't feel sorry for him at all. Now he can learn rap . "me won't get in no more trubba, me don't like sharing a pillow with bubba" " Me ain't go'in back to the rock cause me not like suk'in big black *ock" . Good frick'in ridd'ins.
  7. jm2
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    jm2 - June 09, 2012 2:49 pm
    Families are reported to DCFS . . . over and over and over. Mandated reporters do make the reports, but under their breath are saying, "It won't do any good." And, it's true. DCFS has their hands tied by the courts and our legal system. Unfortunately, our society believes it's best to keep children with their biological parent(s). We have a dumb belief system.
  8. jm2
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    jm2 - June 09, 2012 2:44 pm
    Uh, a 6th grade girl who dresses like a NY hooker . . . well, it's pretty easy to tell where she's headed . . .
  9. PerceptionIsNotTruth
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    PerceptionIsNotTruth - June 09, 2012 12:48 pm
    I agree rasbritz.....That's why it pays to educate yourself, know the laws and your rights....By no means am I condoning criminal acts by ANYONE, but I do concur that this is an imperfect system run by imperfect people....We all just have to do the best we can I guess (hahahahahahahaha - what a joke)...
  10. PerceptionIsNotTruth
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    PerceptionIsNotTruth - June 09, 2012 12:43 pm
    And as far as this comment goes, there is no research yet that shows that the truth-in-sentencing laws have done anything to improve crime rates. I'm sure that in your mind (along with the other right-wingers), you think that because these people sentenced under the 85% law are in prison longer, that the system has improved...I humbly disagree...What most fail to consider is that these individuals one day COME BACK.....Then what?
  11. PerceptionIsNotTruth
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    PerceptionIsNotTruth - June 09, 2012 12:38 pm
    Wow herestheskinny...for a second there I thought you were making knowledgeable and accurate comments....An individual convicted of this would not serve 85% of their sentence because its a federal crime (by the way, federal jurisdiction is an entirely different monster), they serve 85% because of a STATE law called "Truth-In-Sentencing". Look it up, its not that hard to research, understand or quote correctly :)
  12. Bobo Bigelow
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    Bobo Bigelow - June 09, 2012 10:03 am
    I was about to click the report abuse link, not because of abusive language, but because of your abuse of the English language.

    Whatever does "run ramshod" mean?

    As far as I can tell, it is a triple bastardization of some pretty cool words and phrases. It's meaning appears to be a combination of "run amok" and "ride roughshod over" with a bit of "ramshackle" thrown in just for shats and gaggles.

    A truly meretricious contribution to the English language.
  13. annieoakley
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    annieoakley - June 09, 2012 8:21 am
    agree chalicegirl, make them self supporting and yes, a boot camp within could be a good idea.
  14. annieoakley
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    annieoakley - June 09, 2012 8:18 am
    rasbritz actually I DID WORK. I worked a full time job and i still managed to know where and what my children were doing. I did pick their friends and made sure they didn't hang out with the street gangs. So that makes me a bad mom? I WANTED to be bothered, I wanted my children to be good productive citizens and yes, ALL OF THEM ARE ADULTS NOW AND THEY ALL ARE DOING PRETTY GOOD. The problem we have here is that parents are TIRED. I didn't let my children run the streets when they were little which happens all the time now. When they became teenagers they didn't want to run. they KNEW they had responsibilities to themselves to better their lives, you know, LIKE GO TO SCHOOL AND DO WELL! Responsibility goes a long way and so does loving your children enough to want to protect them! Nothing on this planet wrong with them. And being sick is no excuse either. In my 30's i came down with Multiple Sclerosis and good thing it was in the early stages. so now what?
  15. herestheskinny
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    herestheskinny - June 09, 2012 3:57 am
    There is no old saying "it takes a village to raise a child," That is the title of a book Hilary Clinton wrote. A real old saying in regards to child raising goes like this, "spare the rod, spoil the child," One big problem with kids today is that parents try too hard to be their childs buddy instead of a parent. Kids are treated as an equal to an adult and it causes great confusion to them. It starts with small things like letting a child decide what time they want to go to bed at night or letting a youngster drink coffee in the morning. Kids learn quickly that mom and dad are a soft touch and can be manipulated. I have always been my children father, not their buddy. None of them have ever been arrested and they are all doing well today.
  16. herestheskinny
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    herestheskinny - June 09, 2012 3:50 am
    If you move a suitcase full of dope across state lines of course you are going to do 85% of your time. The reason being is that you have committed a federal crime instead of a state crime. All convicted and sentenced federal prisoners do 85% of their sentence. Big difference between state and federal crimes sentencing guidelines.
  17. rocker51
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    rocker51 - June 09, 2012 12:47 am
    Too bad ...sooo sad for Hal jennings and his client. Why be concerned about a 5'7" 140lb kid that is a tough guy, gang banger and hangs around guys with guns? It's always funny to me how tough these fools are until they get caught, then they cry for their momma's like babies! He wanted to be BIG SHOT...let him be a big shot in prison.
  18. Riggyman88
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    Riggyman88 - June 08, 2012 11:34 pm
    Haha good comment. Your ideas make too much sense, which means it won't happen in good old Illinois. I think we should take it a step farther and work to rehabilitate the prisoners that want to better themselves. Education is a good way for this. Farming is another way to teach people to survive and allows one to build a strong work ethic. There are tons of things that could be done to better the situation in prisons, but it won't happen. Easier to just lock them in a cell for 23 hours a day and pay a few people to keep an eye on them (even though guards can be tough jobs).
  19. Riggyman88
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    Riggyman88 - June 08, 2012 11:29 pm
    What does it matter how kids dress? Or how anyone dresses? That means nothing!
  20. Riggyman88
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    Riggyman88 - June 08, 2012 11:27 pm
    Wow really? I love the "back in the day" or "good old days" comments. Back in your day was no different (except for less women's rights and minority rights). Information spreads a lot better and faster today than it did back then, you probably just didn't hear about it as much. Not all parents today or back whenever know exactly who and where the kids are. Some parents are better than others sure, but the problem existed back in the day just as it does now. That excuse doesn't fly IMO.
  21. bosephus
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    bosephus - June 08, 2012 10:43 pm
    I went to Boot camp, good things about it. like it saves tax payers dollars. when your paying $30,000 a year to house an inmate obviously 4 months in boot camp is gonna cost less. Yes the prisons are very overcrowded but if IDOC is choosing from a list of who and who doesn't get to go to boot camp,which they are, the violent offenders are the first chosen not to go. I understand drug addiction but what would drive someone to firing a gun at a house is beyond even me.....
  22. justso55555
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    justso55555 - June 08, 2012 9:34 pm
    HERE IT IS, SIMPLY STATED . . . A person who commits a crime SHOULD GO TO JAIL! End of sentence! I'M DONE! What goes goes around, comes around. IF YOU DO THE CRIME, YOU DO THE TIME! How tough is that to understand?
  23. absolute amazing
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    absolute amazing - June 08, 2012 7:02 pm
    i have said the same for years chalice. their is just to many bleeding hearts in this world. bleeding hearts is what crumbles this society. PREACH IT RASBRITZ !
  24. absolute amazing
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    absolute amazing - June 08, 2012 6:59 pm
    wow rasbritz, you talk out of both sides of your mouth. keep talking, you make me laugh
  25. chalicegirl
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    chalicegirl - June 08, 2012 4:47 pm
    there are a couple of schools of thought here. Yes you do the crime you need to do the time. However currently prison only creates better criminals and about 80% of those who do their time and are released are back in prison in 2 years. It is sad. Cannot we create a boot camp style section in our prisons. Actually- I believe that all our prisoner should work hard for the "luxuries" they are given, a place to sleep, three meals a day (yes- I know the food is pretty bad) and access to other amenities. Let's make the prisons more self supporting- let the inmates farm for a substantial portion of their food- plant and weed and pick crops. What to do with the worst of them who can't handle this lifestyle.... make it like Escape from NY and put them all in one area, air lift them supplies once a month and let them fight amongst themselves. I am tired of prisoners getting for free what I work very hard for for my own family and then have to pay their way also not only in the cost of the prisoners but all the welfare and aid costs to their families and children too. There is So much wrong with our society and economy that giving prisoners a free ride is like a vacation. Yes I know that conditions in prison are bad- I have had a family member incarcerated- but maybe it it were worse-there would be less crime and lower prison populations because it would actually be a deterrent.
  26. rasbritz
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    rasbritz - June 08, 2012 3:18 pm
    jm2 And some parents need people like you to report them to dcfs...Look at the reports of how many children lived in the homes they are busting for drugs..Tell me the neighbors didn't know it was going on and tell me the family didn't know..Kids don't grow up saying i wanna be in a gang and shoot up houses when asked in 1st grade. These kids come from families with parents doing or selling drugs they raise themselves and look for family and it's very unfortunate that family they find is gangs and it's sad that people are to self absorbed to speak up and do anything before it results in this...Remember the old saying it takes a village to raise a child? Well... we all failed all these kids.. And those smarting off about it's good for them remember KARMA!
  27. rasbritz
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    rasbritz - June 08, 2012 3:11 pm
    annieoakley ya i'm serious!!!!! Tell me have you ever turned your back on a child you thought was abused or neglected? I'm sure you see it all the time and just figure it's not my problem and not my family..Well lady here it is a product of society NOW DEAL WITH IT
  28. tcarterffs485
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    tcarterffs485 - June 08, 2012 2:58 pm
    an 85% sentence does not apply just to violent offenses. People who do not work in the criminal justice system, social work system or law enforcement have no idea of the impact that convicted felons have when they are released. This society is too slap happy with marking a person as a felon and this ruins the kid's entire life. if the kid has more than 30 gr of pot - it's a felony. i dont' agree with people who seem to have to use drugs, but greater damage is done in the long run by turning them into felons. Call it a misdemeanor and there is less stigma and less over crowding.
  29. herestheskinny
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    herestheskinny - June 08, 2012 2:24 pm
    You make an excellent poiont and this persons comment is borderline lunacy.
  30. herestheskinny
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    herestheskinny - June 08, 2012 2:23 pm
    Rasbritz, I get what your saying and shaking my head at the same time. So because we have a convicted rapist cop in prison for 300 years and a convicted corrupt Chicago Democratic Governor serving 14 years, we should not lock up people who shoot at houses. That is about as warped of an outlook than I have ever heard. As for your comment about this happening to somenone I know? If someone I knew shot at a house even if it were by own child, I would turn them into the police myself. I dont know where you get this judgmental BS from, unless you are referring to seeing 6 youngsters standing on a street corner flagging down cars and exchanging items with occupants and concluding; hey I think they might be selling drugs. If you consider personal and obvious observations of a groups actions when it is blatantly obvious what they are doing as being judgmental, then thats me. Its also me to report suspicious activity to the local police when I see it going on. I think failing to report suspicious activity to police by ignorant observers is a crime in itself. It is a crime against every decent person in that particular area. I guess you might say I am a criminals worst enemy. I pay attentiion to things and report suspicious activities to help protect potential victims against criminals. You know what Im sayin?
  31. I AM
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    I AM - June 08, 2012 1:55 pm
    This house shooter should be in prison for a long time.He cant shoot anyone while he is in the can.Dont like prison? DONT SHOOT AT HOUSES Genius !!!!
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    LIVIN_LOUIE - June 08, 2012 1:47 pm
    You can get an 85% sentence for moving a suitcase of pot across state lines into Illinois. 85% sentencing is NOT just for violent offenses.
  33. MRS
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    MRS - June 08, 2012 1:28 pm
    Agree 99%. The 1% is the parents that were great parents but no matter how great the parents were the kid turned out bad. I have seen that up close and personal. today's parents do not want to take the time to parent, they are to busy trying to be friends. And in some cases the parents are trying to stay out of jail themselves. Back in our day parents did know exactly who and where the kids are. Back in the day parents told the kids no when there were questions about who they hung with and limited them to where they could go. Today's parents don't care as long as they don't have to be bothered.
  34. jm2
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    jm2 - June 08, 2012 12:55 pm
    Exactly annieoakley! And it begins the day of birth . . . the parenting and environment they grow up in is what leads people into these situations. Yes, I have a gut ache thinking about what these people's lives have been like from birth . . . their parents' lives and their grandparents' lives. But, the truth is you aren't going to change them at this age - at least not many. Until this society steps up to the plate and does something about this from the beginning (at birth) with these kids and their families, this will only continue to get worse - all across the country. It's called a cycle. What do these kids' all have in common? Yeah, just look at the cycle. And, it continues. I can tell you right now,most teachers could tell in 6th grade just what kids are going to end headed in this direction - they know the kid, they know how he/she dresses, how he/she behaves and the know the parenting situation. They can probably also tell you at 6th grade which girls will be having babies by the time they're 16 too.
  35. navysvo
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    navysvo - June 08, 2012 12:48 pm
    but there was no "cover up" or police wrongly convicting anyone here. This person commited a crime, and got sentenced. Is he better than this? Maybe so. But if we just keep letting people run ramshod everywhere with no sence of what the consequenses might be, where does society end up? In the toilet, that's where. The key here is to stop runnin' around with bad elements. Go ELSEWHERE with yourself. Nobody forces them to do the things they do.
  36. annieoakley
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    annieoakley - June 08, 2012 9:58 am
    rasbritz are you serious? I mean really, you don't think shooting a gun INTO a home is a violent crime? I don't care if it is a first offense, next time they just might end up killing someone. BULLETS DON'T HAVE NAMES ON THEM when fired from a drive by. These gang members will find their gang in prison and go to them for protection. I knew a guy that went to the boot camp and the only reason the criminal opts to go to the camp is to get out sooner. He is now in PRISON because he then perpetrated more violence and could have killed others with the choices he made. They will go back to the lifestyle when they get out. These kids DO HAVE CHOICES! They know right from wrong! The parents here are personally responsible too because they didn't care what their kid was doing outside of the home. Don't tell someone to not judge someone else. The parents have choices too and they made the bad choices for their kid. But the choices solely rest on the shoulders of the person who decides they are going to be a criminal. I have lived in those neighborhoods and I got my children out of there. I also kept my children in the house and I PICKED THEIR FRIENDS! I knew where they went, whom they went with and what they were doing.
  37. rasbritz
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    rasbritz - June 08, 2012 8:28 am
    Well to herestheskinny and only in america..Well i pray this never happens to anyone you know...I want to remind you that there have been several people held in prison due to cover ups by our own state prosecutors..My opinion is that to is a violent act against a person and they should serve time in prison up to 85% but instead they get sued..So the system don't work when you have crooks convicting people and one in the governors office and on our very own police department. Do you get what i'm saying? We are paying crooks to protect us these days and yes every first time offender deserves a second chance..People change what this state needs is a scared straight program and that would cost less then people/kids/teens being housed in over crowded prisons....It's judgmental people like you that drive some of these kids to do what they do when there is nowhere to turn..School shooting! Maybe we all need to walk in some of these kids shoes and just see what this persons life is like before we judge..Maybe it's another case of dcfs not stepping up and removing these kids from home filled with gang violence and they learned no other way..Maybe for the good of mankind you can stop judging and find something for these kids to do here in town that low income can afford to keep them occupied but instead what we do is...Judge people and if a kid see's you expect the worst from them your gonna get the worst cause they have never been told there is any good not even from our flipping police and in half these cases these people are forced to plead guilty because you can't find a jury in this town to convict on evidence and law just hate...
  38. herestheskinny
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    herestheskinny - June 08, 2012 8:00 am
    The only reason a person is sentenced under the 85% of the sentence is because they have been convicted of a violent crime. I dont think any violent criminal first offense or not should be elgible for anything other than the full amount of their sentence. If they are a first timer and have to serve 85% in real prison, chances are much slimmer of their being a second offense.
    Report Abuse
    ONLY IN AMERICA - June 08, 2012 7:20 am
    Too bad so sad ..........someone who fires a gun into a residence NEEDS TO GO TO PRISON-

    Maybe criminal offenders might think twice before their criminal activities !!!! Bubba awaits !!!
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