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June 10, 2010

Disgraced Detroit mayor apparently boot camp eligible despite getting significant state prison sentence

This new Detroit Free Press article, which is headlined "State: Ex-mayor Kilpatrick qualifies for boot camp," provides an interesting update on a high-profile state sentencing case out of Michigan.  Here is how the piece starts:

Two weeks after he was handcuffed in a Wayne County courtroom on live television and hustled off to prison, Kwame Kilpatrick is being proposed for boot camp with the prospect of parole in 90 days.

The Michigan Department of Corrections made the proposal in a Tuesday letter to Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner, who sentenced the former Detroit mayor to 1 1/2 to five years in prison for probation violation.

Inmates who successfully complete the 90-day boot camp program are placed on parole for a minimum of 18 months, with the first 30 days under intense supervision. By law, Groner has veto power over the proposal. So the ultimate decision rests, again, with him.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she learned of the proposal Wednesday. "We will certainly recommend to the judge that this not occur," Worthy said. The two weeks Kilpatrick has been imprisoned is not enough time to screen him for such placement, she said. Her other objections will be in her letter to Groner, she said.

Kilpatrick's former lawyer Michael Alan Schwartz welcomed the recommendation, saying it would redress an injustice.

In the letter to Groner, the Corrections Department said that Kilpatrick qualified as a carefully screened offender for placement in the Special Alternative Incarceration facility.

Worthy, who just two weeks ago completed a 10-month struggle to lock up Kilpatrick for probation violation, said she was not happy with the prospect. "I've never seen anything like this," she said Wednesday. Worthy said that 14 days is not enough time to determine whether Kilpatrick is suitable for boot camp, adding she will spell out her objections in a letter to Groner.

Groner, who chastised Kilpatrick for lying to the court and flaunting a lavish lifestyle in Texas while hiding assets, could not be reached for comment.

Kilpatrick's appellate attorney, Arnold Reed, said the former Detroit mayor isn't receiving special treatment while in custody and that the offer of boot camp is common for inmates like him. Nevertheless, Reed said he did not foresee Kilpatrick going into the program. "It's up to the judge," Reed said. "And based on what transpired ... in terms of him sentencing Mr. Kilpatrick beyond what the guidelines call for, I can only conclude that Judge Groner would not grant something like this."

Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said that Kilpatrick was not being singled out or being specially selected for boot camp. "We didn't recommend him. It is standard procedure for those inmates who qualify," Marlan said.

The boot camp program has changed in recent years from the full-bore militaristic regimen of screaming drill sergeants of its early days, Marlan said. "It is more about re-entry than regimentation," Marlan said.

But it hasn't lost all of its military flavor. Inmates get their heads shaved and they are put through marching, physical fitness and tough work programs. However, counseling and re-entry strategies are now major components, Marlan said. Entry into the program is voluntary. The 440-prisoner program is located in Chelsea.

Prisoners who successfully complete the 90-day program are paroled for at least 18 months, with the first 30 days under strict supervision. The parolees can be assigned to halfway houses, required to wear electronic monitors or comply with other special conditions. Marlan said it is "a big incentive for prisoners" to earn early release though the challenging program.

June 10, 2010 at 08:07 AM | Permalink

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Generally, inmates who haven't been to prison before, even if they have prior felony convictions, and who receive a minimum sentence not longer than 36 months, are boot-camp eligible. There are some offenses, notably sex offenses, which make the inmate automatically ineligible, even if the minimum is shorter. Thus, I can't credit Ms. Worthy's statement that she's "never seen anything like this." It happens all the time.

Posted by: Greg Jones | Jun 10, 2010 1:31:07 PM

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