CROWN POINT — A judge granted a former day care operator's request for an early release from prison, nearly two years after she was sentenced to four years in prison for neglecting a 5-month-old boy who suffered life-threatening injuries while in her care.
Rebecca Bennett, 40, of Griffith, earned reductions in her sentence for good behavior and completion of a rehabilitation program focused on building character while incarcerated, attorney Matthew Fech said.
Bennett appeared Tuesday before Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez seeking a modification allowing her to leave prison several months early and complete her sentence in the Lake County Community Corrections work-release program.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Tara Villarreal objected to Bennett's modification request.
Amie and Michael Frassinone, the parents of the now 5-year-old boy, said Bennett should be required to serve all of her time in prison.
"I'm just upset that we even have to be here and have to have this discussion again," Amie Frassinone said.
She said she felt like her family was being punished, because her son didn't die.
Her son still must go to a Chicago hospital for regular checkups and wasn't able to remain in kindergarten with his peers.
Vasquez said Bennett's plea capped her sentence at six years, and he ordered her to serve four years in prison and two years on probation.
Bennett earned time off her sentence under state law and Department of Correction rules, he said.
If Vasquez had refused to grant Bennett's request, she would have been released from prison in early July, Fech said.
The judge granted Bennett's request to leave prison, allowing her to enter the Community Transition Court he oversees. She'll remain in the program for the remainder of her prison sentence, Vasquez said.
"This allows her to leave the Department of Correction and start her re-entry," he said. "It's not what you want. I get that. But we can't lock her up forever."
Bennett will not be able to seek a shorter probation period and cannot work with children until she completes her sentence, he said.