IL Prison Watchdog Group Says Raising Gun-Possession Penalties Won’t Deter People


The John Howard Association, an Illinois-based prison watchdog group, is opposing legislation that would boost sentences for illegal gun possession. The group says the proposal backed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez would “radically change current law, which allows judges to use their discretion” and employ alternatives to prison, such as the Cook County Jail's boot camp.

John Maki, executive director of the group, questioned arguments that raising the mandatory minimum sentence for illegal gun possession would deter more people from carrying firearms illegally. “Who would you rather meet on the streets of Chicago? A recently released parolee who has spent three mandatory years in Illinois' crowded and under-resourced prison system or an offender who has completed an intensive evidence-based alternative sentencing program that is proven to reduce recidivism?” he s said. A bill pending in the General Assembly would raise the mandatory minimum prison term for aggravated unlawful use of a gun — meaning illegal gun possession — from one year to three and require offenders to serve 85 percent of the sentences, up from 50 percent now.

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