The Chicago Sun-Times stepped off the reservation and reported on how Cook County judges are ignoring state sentencing guidelines and laws, letting young felons committing violent, forcible felonies off with a slap on the wrist.
It’s one of the many reasons Chicago Isn’t Safe. Not even for college students who aren’t in trouble with the law.
Chicago (Sun-Times) – Denzel Simons, 19, a first-time felon, stood before Cook County Circuit Judge Diane Cannon facing six to 30 years in prison for robbing a man at his Southwest Side home.
There was no way he was supposed to get boot camp — a break reserved for young, nonviolent offenders.
His victim was against it. He’d lost his wallet, with $290 inside, and took a beating from Simons’ partner in crime, who pistol-whipped him.
What’s more, Illinois law explicitly ruled out a boot camp sentence. Boot camp or probation aren’t options for armed robbers like Simons. It’s too serious of a crime.
But in a decision repeated again and again in recent years by Cook County judges, Cannon ignored the law.
She gave Simons boot camp anyway.
A Sun-Times survey of thousands of pages of court records found that since 2006, Cook County judges have handed down hundreds of improper boot camp sentences to violent felons.
Simons’ case ended in tragedy.
Less than two years after he was sent to the four-month boot camp program, Simons was charged with murdering Kermit Delashment II, a 21-year-old college student with big dreams.
Delashment’s death was the 500th killing of 2008 in Chicago.
Had Simons been sentenced to prison instead of boot camp, it’s likely he would have still been behind bars at the time of the killing, law enforcement sources said. Cannon, though, argued Simons might have been out anyway if he had received the minimum prison sentence and gotten “good time” for behaving behind bars.
The victim’s father is left to wonder what might have been.
“If the judge had followed that particular statute, I might still have my son, and my kids might have their brother,” Kermit Delashment Sr. said. “He would have followed his dream. It is kind of hard to swallow.”