Mandatory Minimums Don't Work

When setting out the laws that would govern the Hebrew people after their release from slavery, God mandates a judicial system based on equality and justice. God continues to call us to work for a justice system in which people are treated fairly and the punishment is in proportion to the crime. Mandatory minimums and sentence enhancements do not fit into such a system.

At the Annual Membership Assembly, Community Renewal Society’s member churches approved the FORCE Project’s Faith Statement Against Mandatory Minimums and Sentence Enhancements as part of our 2013 Platform for Renewal.

Join us in urging Illinois legislators to OPPOSE expanding mandatory minimums and SB1342. Take action now by telling your state legislators to oppose SB1342. This bill could be voted on soon during a special session in early December, 2013.

SB1342 as altered by Amendments 3 and 5 proposes the following changes:

Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6)

  • Imposes a new mandatory 1-year minimum prison sentence for first offense of unlicensed possession of an unloaded weapon (if ammunition is immediately accessible)
  • The new mandatory minimum sentence strips eligibility for probation, weekend jail, conditional discharge [see 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3©(2)(F-5)], and for existing Redeploy Illinois programs
  • Increases mandatory prison for second weapon/offense from 3-7 years to 4-10 years

Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a person previously convicted of any felony or confined in a penal institution (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1)

  • Increases all mandatory minimum sentences by one year – E.g. First offense, unloaded weapon, no ammunition: 2-10 years increased to 3-10 years
  • Removes option of boot camp/county impact incarceration

Unlawful Use of a Weapon – Street Gang Member (720 ILCS 5/24-1.8)

  • Creates new mandatory minimum of 4-10 years (up from 3-10 years)
  • Applies longer sentence to “members” with no prior criminal background
  • Removes eligibility for probation, weekend jail, conditional discharge, boot camp/county impact incarceration, and existing Redeploy Illinois programs

85% “Truth in Sentencing” provision (730 ILCS 5/3-6-3)

  • Applies to all Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon sentences except for first-time offenders
  • Includes first-time possession by individuals previously convicted of any felony, or street gang members

Decades of research show that mandatory minimums do not deter crime; and, therefore, are not smart on crime. This bill has been widely discussed in the media. See below for recent editorials from Chicago to Los Angeles and across Illinois.

Editorials

Being smart and tough on crime
Rep. Christian Mitchell & Sen. Kwame Raoul
Chicago Tribune 11/15/13

Get-tough gun bill not answer
The News-Gazette 11/13/13

Our View: Mandatory minimums the wrong answer
Rockford Register Star 11/4/13

Our View: Mandatory minimums for victimless gun crimes make no sense
Peoria Journal Star 11/2/13

Editorial: Don’t rush into mandatory sentences
Daily Herald 10/30/13

Gun law proposal way over the top
The News-Gazette 10/28/13

Crime and punishment in America
Los Angeles Times 10/27/13

Mandatory minimum sentences well-meaning by ineffective
Sen. Patricia Van Pelt
Chicago Tribune 10/23/13

Mandatory-minimum sentencing doesn’t work
Chicago Sun-Times 10/21/13

Our View: Shoot down mandatory sentences
Northwest Herald 10/18/13

Reasonable doubt about mandatory minimum sentencing
Eric Zorn
Chicago Tribune 10/18/13

Editorial: House bill may only make violent crime problem worse
The Moline Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus 10/17/13

False premise of gun sentences
Franklin E. Zimring
Chicago Sun-Times 10/16/13

Our Views: Costly Chicago violence fix is no solution
Bloomington Pantagraph, Decatur Herald & Review, Mattoon Journal Gazette, Charleston Times-Courier 10/16/13

Windy City Gun Sentences Drive by Politics, Not Facts
Julie Stewart
Huffington Post 10/16/13

Perspective: Mandatory minimum prison sentences will not solve Chicago’s epidemic of gun violence
John Maki
Chicago Tribune 9/30/13

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