Three years after beating a black teen-ager
into a coma, a white Chicago man has been transferred from prison
into an Urbana halfway house where there are no fences or armed
Frank Caruso Jr., 21, who was sentenced to
eight years in prison for the racially motivated attack of Lenard
Clark, was transferred April 5 from the Sheridan Correctional
Center in LaSalle County to the Adult Transitional Center.
Caruso, who is eligible for parole in 2002
if he behaves, qualified for the transfer because he has less
than two years remaining in his sentence, prison officials said.
Also, the crimes for which he was convicted - aggravated battery
and a hate crime - do not disqualify him from living in a halfway
house, according to prison regulations.
"The bottom line is that we treat this
kid just like everybody else," said Nic Howell, a spokesman
for the Illinois Department of Corrections. Like others at the
facility, Caruso can leave for work or school. Howell said Caruso
is looking for a job.
Clark was attacked in 1997 by a group of
white teen-agers, including Caruso, as Clark rode his bicycle
through a predominantly white neighborhood on the city's South
Side. The attack focused attention on the city's lingering racial
tensions, made national headlines and was condemned by President
Clinton in a national radio address.
Caruso was convicted by a jury and sentenced
to prison in 1998. Two other white teen-agers pleaded guilty and
Clark, who was 13 at the time of the attack,
regained consciousness. But he continues to suffer brain damage
as a result of the beating.
In January, Clark visited Caruso in prison,
and even posed for a photograph with him.