Illinois senators will soon vote on a bill that would enhance Illinois’ already harsh sentencing policies but not reduce violence. This proposal is a continuation of harmful public policies that studies have shown are ineffective.
Thanks to your action, a previous version of this bill did not pass during the January 2017 “Lame Duck” session. Your action is needed again! Send an email now to your state senator and file a witness slip to oppose SB 1722, Amendment 2, which would increase sentences for second-time gun possession.
Illinois has increased gun possession sentences six times since 2000, tripling the number of people in prison for possessing a weapon. Still, we have experienced record levels of violence without any measurable positive impact on public safety.
We are committed to stopping the devastating gun violence in Chicago. However, enacting longer sentences for gun possession will not make our communities safer. Illinois already requires more mandatory prison time for unlawful gun possession than most states.
Longer sentences are unlikely to increase public safety. They will, instead, increase the cost of Illinois’ overcrowded prison system, while doing nothing to improve rehabilitation inside of state prisons or in communities after individuals are released.
Community Renewal Society opposes any new legislation that expands mandatory minimums or enhances Illinois’ already harsh sentencing policies. Instead, we support comprehensive approaches to violence reduction, such as expanding employment opportunities for returning citizens and funding community-based restorative justice and violence prevention programs.
While this proposal is being packaged with other criminal justice “reforms,” doing this does not alleviate the harm that would be caused by this new sentence enhancement. Illinois lawmakers need to pass the reforms recently recommended by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform which would reduce the prison population without ineffective sentence enhancements.