COOK COUNTY - A Cook County judge Friday denied prosecutors’ request that he reconsider the sentence he gave a man a decade ago under a new state law that gives prison inmates who have taken steps toward rehabilitation a chance to get out of prison early.
Judge Stanley Sacks said he didn’t believe 55-year-old convicted burglar Charles Miles had shown himself to be rehabilitated while in prison and expressed skepticism over whether the state’s constitution would allow him to effectively commute the remainder of Miles’ sentence if he wanted to.
Miles, the judge said, was expected to be released in a little over a year anyway, and could have done more to accumulate credits off his sentence if he wanted to get out early — or could ask the governor to commute the rest of his sentence.
Miles’ brother and sister-in-law, who drove up from downstate Normal to attend the hearing, said they were disappointed.
"It hurts," Tanya Miles said after the hearing. She called the judge’s at times sarcastic questions and statements during the proceedings "kinda harsh."
In addition to having to serve the final year of his sentence for two burglaries, Miles also lost the opportunity to be paired to a number of community-based services upon release, including housing and help seeking employment, that would have come with the judge’s approval as part of an initiative by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Prosecutors and Miles’ defense attorney stressed those programs were the true benefit to prisoners granted early release, and argued it would break the cycle of Miles’ imprisonment by giving him the support he needed to reenter society.
A spokeswoman for Foxx issued a statement Friday night expressing disappointment at Sacks’ decision, but adding, "we understand that a judge must look at the facts and the defendant in each individual case and we hope to continue our work in future resentencing endeavors."
Miles’ case was the first in Cook County to be argued before a judge after Foxx announced in March that her office had selected three long-serving inmates for potential early release under the new law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last summer.
The law allows a judge to resentence an inmate recommended by prosecutors if the original sentence "no longer serves the interests of justice," Foxx said in the announcement.
The defendants are brought back before the judge who originally sentenced them, or a new judge if the original judge is no longer on the bench, for essentially a sentencing do-over.
Prosecutors still provide aggravating factors against the defendant, who is also given a defense attorney who provides mitigating factors at the hearing, though both are, in fact, advocating for the defendant’s release.
Sacks commented multiple times Friday on the unusual nature of having both sides of the case essentially performing the same job and questioned who was representing the public’s interest.
Larry Frazier, another inmate selected for prosecutor’s initiative, is still awaiting a hearing while a judge reviews his case and prosecutors dropped the resentencing motion for a third man after they determined he would have been released before a hearing could be held.
Foxx’s office said it will focus on people who have served at least a decade in prison for a drug-related offense, those over 65 who have served at least 20 years and persons who were under 21 at the time of their offense and have served at least 15 years of their sentence.