It’s been a week since Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced that her office would seek the early release of three inmates — a home invader, an aggravated robber, and a serial burglar — under Illinois’ new “resentencing” law. So far, things aren’t going as smoothly or as quickly as her office might have hoped.
First, a spokesperson for Gov. JB Pritzker slammed Foxx’s decision to pick men with lengthy criminal records, two of them repeat violent offenders, as the first people to receive her attention. Pritzker “hoped prosecutors would’ve first prioritized those who committed non-violent offenses,” the spokesperson said.
Monday night, CWB published an analysis of the law by Alan Spellberg. He retired in 2021 after serving nearly 27 years as a Cook County prosecutor, with two decades supervising appellate cases. His conclusion? The “resentencing” law is unconstitutional because the Illinois State Constitution gives the power to pardon, commute, and modify lawful sentences to only one person: the governor. He argued that the legislature has no constitutional authority to transfer that power to a judge.
And, Spellberg said, Illinois already has a well-established and constitutional route for seeking early release for inmates that Foxx or anyone else believes have been rehabilitated. Those clemency requests go through the Prisoner Review Board to the governor.
On Thursday, Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks cited those same constitutional concerns when prosecutors appeared before him to argue for the early release of Charles Miles, the serial burglar who is scheduled to be paroled on May 30 next year.
The Sun-Times reports:
Sacks added that he wasn’t even sure that he had the authority to effectively commute Miles’ sentence even if he wanted to, since that power is solely held by the governor.
“Is it constitutional?” Sacks asked of the law. “Isn’t this something for the governor to do? Why do you think I can do that?”
Sacks told prosecutors he expected them to be able to make an argument for the constitutionality of the law at Miles’ resentencing hearing.
Sacks set the next hearing for May 5.
The victim in the burglary that Miles is imprisoned for told the Tribune that the state’s attorney’s office contacted her about their plan to seek resentencing on Monday — three days after they announced it to the public and two days after CWB posted a detailed account of the burglary from appellate court records. The woman and her 13-year-old daughter were home at the time of the break-in.
In a separate hearing, prosecutors told another judge Thursday that they were no longer proceeding with efforts to get the robber, Roland Reyes, resentenced, the Sun-Times reported.
Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Adduci said she had received “new information” that Reyes might be released from prison soon anyway. It’s not clear why that information is new to Adduci’s office. The publicly-available Illinois Department of Corrections website has long listed Reyes’ anticipated release date as May 6, 2022.
CWB reported that before receiving his current sentence for aggravated robbery in 2008, Reyes received:
- 20 years for armed robbery in 1992
- five years for being a felon in possession of a firearm the same year
- two six-year sentences for robbery and one six-year sentence for burglary in 1989
- two years for theft in 1984
- four two-year sentences for narcotics in 1984.
Wednesday, another Cook County judge ordered prosecutors to provide mounds of paperwork from previous court proceedings for the convicted home invader, Larry Frazier.
Frazier’s sentence has been upheld by a state appellate court, a federal court, and a federal appellate court since he was convicted of the 1995 home invasion, during which he held a gun to the head of his 62-year-old victim.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re at the very beginning of this journey,” Judge Brian Flaherty said. You can read more about the hearing in this Sun-Times report.
The next hearing in Frazier’s case is also set for May.