Reporting Jay Levine
CHICAGO (CBS) — Superintendent McCarthy has claimed that the assault on the park never would have happened if Illinois had tougher gun laws. If suspect Bryon Champ was in jail, he wouldn’t have been involved in the shooting which triggered the revenge attack.
CBS 2’s Jay Levine reports that McCarthy may have a point, but the fact is, there may already have a law on the books which could have accomplished the same thing. A loophole in an existing mandatory minimum sentence for repeat offenders let Champ walk the streets again far sooner than a jail term would have allowed.
“If Bryon Champs isn’t on street, as he shouldn’t have been, this incident likely doesn’t occur,” said McCarthy.
Because the shooting in Cornell Square Park was in retaliation for another shooting earlier in the day where Champ suffered a graze wound.
“And he received boot camp as his punishment. a year later he’s the main player in the shooting of 13 people,” said McCarthy.
A spokesman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said her office recommended jail time for Champ, who as a convicted felon should have gotten 3 to 7 years. But instead of a mandatory minimum 3 years in prison for a repeat offender, Judge James Linn sentenced him to boot camp.
Boot camp has become a popular alternative for judges instead of jail time. Fewer graduates of boot camp end up back in jail.
Champ entered boot camp following his conviction on July 16 2012 and successfully completed the program on August 9 of this year, six weeks before the Cornell Square Park shootings.
“This judge sent him to a better program he just didn’t take advantage of it. Should he be off the streets today? Absolutely,” said legal expert Irv Miller. “Unfortunately judges can’t use hindsight in imposing a sentence
But the lesson of Cornell Square park and other recent tragedies is that creative solutions, according to McCarthy, like boot camp don’t protect the public.
“People have to go to prison for possession of an illegal loaded firearm. because it’s the gateway crime to committing a murder,” said McCarthy.
CBS tried to find the Judge who sentenced Champ to boot camp and were told he was taking a few days off. He was defended by colleagues as a good judge, who’s anything but soft on criminals.
McCarthy and the Mayor not only want to close that loophole but make any illegal gun possession punishable by real jail time. They argue it has worked elsewhere and it’ll work here.