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‘Have a safe trip to Danville’: judge soundly rejects resentencing bid backed by prosecutors and sends man back to prison
Chicago Tribune - 5/6/2022
In a lengthy and caustic tirade Friday afternoon, Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks denied prosecutors’ bid to release one man from prison a year early, a preliminary test of the State’s Attorney’s new initiative to push for resentencing longtime inmates “in the interest of justice.”
In ruling that Charles Miles should stay in prison, Sacks repeated that phrase often, in a derisive tone.
“It’s hardly in the interest of justice to reduce lawfully imposed sentences,” he said. “... I am not a social worker. If Mr. Miles has some beef about the sentence, the remedy for Charles Miles is to ask the governor.”
Prosecutors as well as Miles’ pro bono attorneys noted that part of the resentencing initiative involves intensive support and re-entry benefits that would be available for Miles — but only if Sacks agreed to the early release.
“If you look at his background, Your Honor, incarceration has not worked,” Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Adduci said in court. Simply letting him go in a year with no means of support only risks further recidivism, she said.
“I get it, it’s not easy, but sometimes we have to take certain chances or risks,” Adduci said, saying this was a chance to “something to support Mr. Miles, give him the tools he needs to build a road back.”
Miles had a prior history of burglary convictions before he was found guilty in the 2010 and 2011 cases, for which he was sentenced to a combined 25 years. With expected day-for-day credit and some credit for participating in certain courses, he is slated for release in May 2023.
While in custody, Miles has participated in Narcotics Anonymous and taken educational courses during his time in custody, according to his attorneys.
“He’s been through this before … we’re trying to set him up differently so when he is released, he does reenter society, he is successful, and he’s ready to do that now,” his attorney Michael Meneghini said in court.
Sacks scowled when Miles stood to speak on his own behalf.
“25 years, I never did this type of time before,” Miles said.
“First time for everything,” Sacks responded.
“I’m a different person, I’m a better person,” Miles continued.
“When did you decide that?” Sacks asked.
“I decided that right after I had to accept I’m doing this time,” said Miles, who is doing incarcerated in Danville Correctional Center. “... Right now I just want to see a future, I want to move forward with my life. Things I’ve done, I was convicted of, but now, you know what I’m saying, I have a whole mindset to do better.”
In a lengthy ruling, Sacks called Miles a “congenital burglar,” and scoffed at the educational courses he took in prison, saying they were hardly enough to show that he had been rehabilitated. And he was skeptical that Miles would take advantage of the re-entry programs if he were released early.
“Miles could get out today and say … I’m out, I don’t need to do all this,” he said.
Sacks also hinted heavily that he thought the statute allowing for prosecutor-initiated resentencing was unconstitutional, though he stopped short of making a formal finding from the bench.
Sacks ended the hearing by addressing Miles directly: “Have a safe trip to Danville,” he said.
A few moments later, as Miles was led back into custody, he gave the judge some parting words. “You treat me like a murderer,” he said.
After the hearing, Miles’s brother Cubby told reporters he wishes he could have addressed Sacks himself: “If he gets out of line, I’ll do the rest of the time,” he would have said.
“My brother was guilty, and I can accept that he was guilty,” Cubby said. “But I love him. He’s my little brother.”
Miles got caught up in drugs and was running with a bad crowd, but now that he is sober, he’s not at risk of reoffending, Cubby said, and the judge “could have been a little more lenient.”
“I tell (Miles), you just gotta stay on your knees, pray to the Lord,” he said.
Miles was one of three people initially identified by prosecutors as a candidate for resentencing under a new state law allowing prosecutors to proactively request more lenient sentences for people, though the ultimate decision is still up to a judge.
Of the first three petitions prosecutors filed, one was withdrawn after authorities learned the subject would actually be released within the next few days. Another petition is pending in the suburban Markham courthouse. Its next court date is set for June.
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