Special report: How Robbie Patton got out of prison

Special report: How Robbie Patton got out of prison


The goal of the facility is to go far beyond the minimum necessities of food, sanitation, clothing, housing, and medical services to the offenders of the facility. The administration and staff of the facility strive to maintain a clean and safe environment for the offender population, encouraging a positive adjustment while acquiring employment skills and educational advancements that will lend to rehabilitation and reduced recidivism.

— Taken from the Department of Corrections’ mission statement for the minimum security Du Quoin Impact Incarceration Program.

URBANA — A Champaign teen wanted for the murder of one man and the wounding of three others met the criteria for admission to boot camp earlier this year.

And the Illinois Department of Corrections said Robbie Patton successfully completed the program.

Although the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office objected to the 18-year-old being considered for the military-like alternative to imprisonment, Judge Tom Difanis recommended Patton for the program, formally known as Impact Incarceration.

“None of us have a crystal ball. By noting that we objected, I am not criticizing Judge Difanis. At this point, the responsibility for what happened Sunday is on Robbie Patton,” State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said.

Difanis declined to comment on his rationale, but boot camp recommendations by Champaign County judges for first-time young adult offenders are common. 

Patton pleaded guilty in April before Difanis to aggravated discharge of a firearm, admitting that on Dec. 14, 2015, he fired a gun in the direction of a person in the parking lot of the Steak ’n Shake, 2010 N. Prospect Ave., C.

Probation is an option for that Class 1 felony, but Patton’s eight-year prison sentence was a result of a plea agreement negotiated by Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Banach and Patton’s Champaign attorney, Dan Jackson.

Although it was not part of the agreement, Jackson asked the judge to consider Patton for boot camp, which ranges from 120 to 180 days.

“It’s worth asking for. He was young kid. I thought maybe the discipline of boot camp will get his attention,” said Jackson, a former prosecutor with the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office before going into private practice.

“I thought given the confused evidence and the fact he was young ... and that boot camp is supposed to instill discipline, the kid would learn something. I’m certainly sorry that he was involved in this, if he was,” Jackson said.

Rietz said the aggravated discharge of a firearm conviction was Patton’s first as an adult.

A month before the shooting at the Champaign restaurant, Patton turned 18, the age for prosecution as an adult in Illinois. Rietz said he had a prior adjudication as a minor for aggravated fleeing and eluding.

Court and prison records indicate that Patton served a total of 259 days in custody. He was in the Champaign County Jail for 117 days then in the prison system for 142 days. He was assigned to the boot camp at Du Quoin, a satellite of the Pinckneyville prison.

Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said Patton’s conviction and sentence were “within the parameters” for boot camp participation.

“Patton met the legal criteria ... and the IDOC conducted additional screenings before deeming him eligible to participate. Patton successfully completed the program and paroled on Sept. 9, 2016,” she said.

The law enumerates the criteria for participation:

— Must be not younger than 17 nor older than 35.

— Has not previously participated in boot camp and has not previously served more than one prior sentence of imprisonment for a felony in an adult prison.

— May not have been convicted of murder, a Class X felony, certain sex abuse offenses or arson, or have prior convictions for those offenses.

— The sentence must be eight or fewer years.

— The person must be physically able to participate in strenuous physical activities or labor and may not have any mental disorder or disability that would prevent him from participating in boot camp.

— The person has consented in writing to participate and has been recommended by a judge.

Rietz said Banach objected to boot camp in this case because of the nature of the crime and the fact that it involved a shooting at a public place at a busy time of day, about 5:30 p.m.

Rietz said Patton, who was arrested by University of Illinois police two days after being paroled for allegedly lying to police, was not wearing a parole-issued ankle bracelet. 

Wilson, of DOC, said Patton was not required to have an ankle monitor. Whether an inmate is issued one is determined by the parole board before release, she said.

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John Joseph wrote on September 29, 2016 at 7:09 am

Being a streetgang member, Mr. Patton qualified for enhanced sentencing which would have eliminated the possibility for his little 8 month boot camp bit.  The ball was dropped and I love how the attorneys and judge are now trying to justify and protect each other from criticism.  It's like a lovefest all of a sudden between attorneys and judge.  There is no excuse for this streetgang member to be on the street.  Period.  They had the chance to put him away and they blew it. 

robby71 wrote on September 29, 2016 at 8:09 am

``She said Patton, who was arrested by University of Illinois police two days after being paroled for allegedly lying to police, was not wearing a parole-issued ankle bracelet." And he was released again, despite an obvious and serious parole violation? How come?

BCT24 wrote on September 29, 2016 at 8:09 am

If a Class A felony involving the discharge of a gun is within the 'parameters' of boot camp, then clearly the parameters need to change. Stricter gun laws do no good if they are not enforced or bargained away on offense.

kstyle wrote on September 29, 2016 at 1:09 pm

There is no such thing as a class A felony in the state of Illinois.

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on September 29, 2016 at 8:09 am

if he had cut off his DOC monitor at the time that he was arrested 2 weeks ago for lying to the police, should not have been grounds to terminate his parole?  Why was that not done?


Parole holds are issued all the time.


The good news is that on the website.


www.secondcitycop.blogspot.com   we are story #3.  


#1 read blog in Chicago  ( or so they say)

champaign61821 wrote on September 29, 2016 at 11:09 am

Sounds like he didn't have an ankle monitor.


"Wilson, of DOC, said Patton was not required to have an ankle monitor. Whether an inmate is issued one is determined by the parole board before release, she said."

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on September 29, 2016 at 11:09 am

Yes this story was updated a few minutes ago with that tidbit.


But lets review.


He gets stopped in a car where the driver gets arrested for weed and heroin.   He lies about his name to the police. He gets arrested by the police for lying.  Why was that a parole revocation offense?  


It is clear that an understanding of what societies expectations are with regards to armed shooting suspects.  SNS at 530?  Full of people and people driving around and some how 8 years seems to be an appropriate sentence?  15 at a start.  It was NOT due to his marksman ship skills that he an innocent was not killed there, but rather, just plain dumb luck and physics.  Nothing more.


A message must be sent to the community, the activists that this type of conduct is not to be tolerated.  This was a  town that just last week was CELEBRATING 56 days of no shootings.  Why.. thats a chamber of commerce day right there...............................

Thewatcher wrote on September 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

A previous judge was given the boot because he didn't follow with what was in the parameters.  The issue really is that the kid blew his chance and the break that he got.  He met the criteria, and i'm sure he would have been criticized, though maybe not publically, if he hadn't given him the chance.  Needless to say this kid is in far more trouble than he ever was gonig to be.

John Joseph wrote on September 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

Tell me how you rehab a member of the ABPSN unless that member gets out of the organization.  Then tell me how the member gets out alive.  You don't just fold your hands and pray that this gangster will be a better man when he's done with boot camp.  He's got a hierarchy to answer to.  They're who he fears.  Degrade the organization then we can talk about rehab.  As long as the gang leadership is strong and intact the problems will persist.

drewbert41 wrote on September 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

Shooting at someone in a public place qualifies for 120 days of bootcamp. Unreal.....  It does not matter if it was his first offense. This should not be tolerated. No wonder gun violence has become such an issue. Elect new officials.

sweet caroline wrote on September 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

More reason than ever to vote out the current State's Attorney Julia Reitz and elect George Vargas.  And hope that Difanis retires.

Bobby_Owens wrote on September 29, 2016 at 10:09 am

Agree.  It is pretty flip of Julia Rietz to say "no one has a crystal ball" when one young person is killed and three others injured, and she could have taken concrete, easily identifiable steps (or, to put it another way, HER JOB) to prevent it.  If she had offered a plea deal of anything greater than 8 years, even 8 years and 1 day, boot camp would not have been an option.  If she had insisted on a plea offer just one day greater than 8 years, Judge Difanis couldn't have agreed to boot camp, Robbie Patton would be in prison today, and Mr. Korchev would be at work caring for patients.

Also, a separate case of Residential Burglary and Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicle against Robbie Patton was dismissed on the same day of the plea agreement - 15-CF-1808.  Why did Julia Rietz give this man who shot up a parking lot on North Prospect at 5:30 p.m. (one of the busiest times of day)  such a sweetheart deal?  This is really a dereliction of her duty.  It is especially  disturbing because the police and community leaders have been working so hard to fight this senseless gun violence.  What good is the work of the police and local community leaders if Julia Rietz doesn't do her job?  She really needs to answer for this. As the facts come out, an examination of her performance as State's Attorney is really troubling.

Fedupwithstatereps wrote on September 29, 2016 at 11:09 am

Hind site is 20-20 so I hate when all those who comment seem to have all the answers and easily point fingers.  No one is responsible for this tradegy other than Mr. Patton. Period.  He got a second chance by participating in the boot camp and then willfully committed this crime.  He will go away forever now.  Good riddins. 

John Joseph wrote on September 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm

In this case foresight should have been about as equally clear.  It doesn't take psychic powers when you have his record and his involvment with organized crime.  And, in fact, there has been legislation passed and on the books for years, to support a tough sentence.  Check out the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act as well as the enhanced penalties permissible for streetgang related activity.  But I guess no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.  When cops make a bad judgement call they get raked over the coals and publicly crucified.  I guess attorneys are immune from the same scrutiny? 

mstook423 wrote on September 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm

The point is that Ms. Reitz knows the requirements of what it takes to be elegible for boot camp and agreed to a deal that allowed Mr. Patton to be eligible for boot camp.  Now, after the fact, she claims that her office argued against allowing Mr. Patton the boot camp option.  By this point in the proceedings she has lost control of that option by agreeing to a plea deal that would allow that option. The public defiender obviously knew the rule too and was able to use it to his clients benefit.  

Maybe we should vote for a public defender for State's Attorney instead of the current one that does not seem to understand all of the consequences of the plea deal they offer.

Public defender 1 State's Attorney 0

kstyle wrote on September 29, 2016 at 1:09 pm

There is no such thing as a class A felony in the state of Illinois.

madpaddy wrote on September 29, 2016 at 4:09 pm

I wonder what the recidivism rate for graduates of this so called "boot camp" is compared to those who serve at least half their sentence before being considered for parole.  Is there any evidence it works?  Because it clearly didn't here; Patton was back to his old ways in a matter of days.  

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 29, 2016 at 7:09 pm


WOW you really have to scroll pretty far down to get to the bottom of the comments section when a gun crime takes place in the Champaign area, unless of course you're with U of I athletics dept. and you know then it's all a big misunderstanding and then you go work with kids.

The people of Champaign demand justice!!!!! No more boot camps or even entertaining the notion of redemption!! This kid was the last straw even though he hasn't faced trial is of little concern.

I say I say (foghorn leghorn voice) lock him UNDER the jail I say I say. The audacity of one of "them" folk gettin' his thar hands on a firearm from a conscientious southern gentleman of good stock who was obviously hornswaggled out of his firearm in some manipulative manner. Welllll this ends today I say!!! Why if any posters on here even so much as think about admitting to their partiality during jury selection I would call em' UNAMURICAAAN! (Apologies to mark taylors ghost)


You know if you lose or transfer your gun to somone who shouldn't have one under any circumstances you are unfit to own and secure said weapon and should do the same number of years the person who used it to commit a crime does. Your excuses are your own.




chief21 wrote on September 30, 2016 at 6:09 am

Let the spin ..begin. YOU let this animal loose,