Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for tougher sentences for illegal gun possession, but state officials are warning they would have to build more prison capacity to house the extra inmates, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The mayor, police Superintendent. Garry McCarthy and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez have been urging the Legislature to approve stiff mandatory minimum sentences for illegal gun possession.
An Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman said the legislation would carry a hefty price tag — almost $1 billion over 10 years to house an additional 3,860 inmates in the prison system, which currently holds about 49,000 inmates. The estimate was based on the $21,000 average cost of housing an inmate for a year — plus the cost of building new prisons or “repurposing closed facilities.” The University of Chicago Crime Lab issued a report saying the cost of housing those additional inmates is dwarfed by the “social costs” of the crimes they commit when they're not locked up. The crime lab studied a group of people placed on probation in Chicago for aggravated gun possession in 2011. More than 60 percent were re-arrested for a crime within a year — and seven percent for a violent crime.