Forum: Sheriff says boot camp working
October 25, 2013 8:56PM
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:45AM
The public deserves an informed debate with regard to both punishing and rehabilitating gun offenders in Cook County. As a former prosecutor, I have been extremely vocal regarding the need to stiffen Illinois’ gun laws and reduce gun violence, but we need to approach that process thoughtfully.
As such, we should be encouraging programs that work. The Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center (otherwise known as “boot camp”) is one such program, with a higher success rate than most any other rehabilitation initiative. It instills the type of discipline and job skills these individuals need to succeed on the outside and become productive members of society.
The three-year recidivism rate for the Illinois Department of Corrections is 51.7 percent. The corresponding recidivism rate for VRIC is 20 percent.
As someone who at times has been critical of the judiciary, I feel the criticism of the judges involved with the boot camp program to be misplaced. While no program can guarantee success, the vast majority of men who go through VRIC are successfully rehabilitated and deterred from lives of crime.
We should be acknowledging what is already working and the thoughtful members of the judiciary who are not satisfied with the status quo but are trying to make real changes to help our communities.
Thomas J. Dart
Cook County sheriff
Restore federal courts funding
Our federal courts are quickly finding it difficult to carry out their duties and responsibilities as set forth in the Constitution and acts of Congress because of funding shortfalls. I am joining the presidents of the state bar associations in Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Nevada and Florida to urge members of Congress to end the cuts to federal court funding.
It’s no secret that our federal courts have been forced to downsize, furlough staff and scale back programs in the government’s attempt to balance the budget. The most troubling aspect of these cuts is that they literally imperil the judiciary, a co-equal branch of government.
Cuts in staffing have resulted in slower processing of civil and bankruptcy cases in some courts. This affects individuals, small businesses and corporations that are unable to have legal matters heard in a timely fashion. Continued cuts to the federal defender’s office directly affect a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel and a speedy trial.
Funding cuts have also impacted court security, drug testing, substance use disorder and mental health treatment programs, as well as parole and probation services, all of which could lead to an increased risk to public safety.
On behalf of the 32,000 members of the Illinois State Bar Association, I ask Illinois residents to write to their members of Congress, urging them to make adequate court funding a priority. Our system of justice and our citizens deserve no less.
Paula H. Holderman
President, Illinois State Bar Association