Foxx moves to release 3 long-serving inmates early under new initiative
The men, serving time for charges including robbery and home invasion, are eligible to have their jail sentences cut under a new law passed last year.
Three men who have spent at least a decade behind bars on convictions ranging from aggravated robbery to burglary are hoping to show a judge this week they’ve been rehabilitated and should be released early.
They have a powerful ally in Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx — whose office filed motions last week on their behalf asking judges to resentence them in the cases.
They are the first to be recommended by Foxx’s office as part of an initiative to review the sentences of offenders who are serving decades-long prison terms.
The progressive top prosecutor says these inmates have proven they are rehabilitated and aren’t a danger to the public anymore.
“There is a notion that somehow, the belief in justice, fairness and equity should only be considered by the defense attorneys and not prosecutors,” Foxx said in announcing the program.
“Through the Resentencing Initiative, prosecutors can begin addressing the fact that many Black and Brown people are still incarcerated today under failed policies of the past, even though they have been rehabilitated and pose little threat to public safety,” she said.
A new law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last summer gives Foxx — and all prosecutors in the state — the authority to ask for resentencing. Cook County is the first jurisdiction to file motions seeking resentencing hearings for offenders since the law took effect in January.
Four other states have passed similar laws that allow prosecutors to request a reevaluation of sentences.
Prosecutors will be working with the California-based nonprofit For the People to “analyze prison data to identify potential cases,” the release stated.
Larry Frazier, 63, is one of the men hoping to shave significant time off his sentence when his case goes back before a judge Wednesday.
Frazier was 40 when he was given 60 years in prison for a home invasion that took place in Calumet Park when he was 36, according to court records.
At the time he was sentenced in 1999, Frazier was given an extended sentence because the victim was 62 — only a year younger than Frazier is now, documents show. Details of the case were not immediately available, but other charges Frazier faced included weapons offenses and unlawful restraint.
By that time, Frazier had already amassed a significant criminal record of charges, including theft and armed robbery, going back to the early 1980s, state records show.
In their motion, prosecutors noted the victim wasn’t hurt physically in the home invasion and argued that since being locked up, Frazier “has taken substantial steps toward rehabilitation,” though no details were provided.
Not all the cases have the potential to wipe dozens of years off a sentence — state prison records indicate 55-year-old Charles Miles would already be eligible for release next year.
According to court records, a woman and her 13-year-old daughter were reading in the living room of their Near North Side apartment when the mother heard a creaking noise and then heard her bedroom door close.
The woman started to walk toward the bedroom when Miles appeared.
“No harm, no harm, ma’am. I’m not going to do anything,” Miles told the woman, according to court records.
The woman went to the room and noticed her cell phone and other personal items were missing; Chicago police were called and found a book bag that belonged to Miles resting on the apartment’s fire escape. He was found a few blocks away, the records state.
In custody, Miles said he was homeless and looking for shelter on the night of the burglary.
A jury convicted Miles of residential burglary in 2012, and he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 2014, a judge found Miles guilty in a separate burglary case and sentenced him to 13 years in prison to be served consecutively, records show.
Currently held at the Danville Correctional Center, Miles has served 11 years of the sentence, prosecutors said in their motion.
As in Frazier’s case, prosecutors said no victims were physically hurt in the two burglaries and Miles has taken significant steps toward rehabilitation.
Roland Reyes, serving a 30-year sentence at the Illinois River Correctional Center, is the third man prosecutors have put forward for resentencing.
Reyes, 57, is eligible for release as soon as May and has served 12 years of his sentence, records show.
Reyes pleaded guilty in 2010 to aggravated robbery, records show, and other charges he was facing, including aggravated battery and unlawful restraint, were dropped by prosecutors.
The victim in Reyes’ robbery suffered an injury to his hand and arm, according to prosecutors.
At the time Reyes was sentenced, prosecutors say, aggravated robbery was a Class 1 felony with a sentencing range of 4-15 years in prison. Reyes, though, was sentenced as a Class X offender.
Both Reyes and Miles have hearings Thursday.
Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association, said he finds the idea of resentencing inmates for the crimes they were convicted of fundamentally unfair.
“The rules are what they were when they were sentenced,” he said when reached by phone Friday. Wojcicki said he worries about the impact the resentencing hearings will have on crime victims.
“The victims may feel re-victimized,” he said.
People’s founder and executive director Hillary Blout said she’s found the opposite to be true. Many victims are supportive of resentencing after learning about the defendant’s efforts toward rehabilitation.
“This making of amends can be really powerful,” she said.
Foxx said her office would be taking a “victim-centered approach” to the process, saying they would be notified of the hearings and allowed to provide their own input and recommendation with a written or oral statement at the proceedings.
The state’s attorney’s office says people convicted of murder and sex charges won’t be eligible for resentencing nor will anyone facing a mandatory life sentence.
But nothing in the details made public about the initiative say convictions for other violent crimes, such as shootings, will make a person ineligible for consideration in Cook County.
“The [Illinois] law was written broadly ... that was on purpose,” Blout said of giving prosecutors wide discretion to identity cases.
Nothing in the law would restrict a prosecutor from seeking a resentencing hearing for someone convicted of a violent offense, Bout said.
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.
Prosecutors cannot request resentencing for people who have not served at least the minimum sentence for their crimes, the office said. Reviews will also include factors such as prior convictions, disciplinary record while in prison and a record of efforts made in custody toward rehabilitation.