As Chicago Murder Rate Remains High, Sentences Low In Gun Crimes


Cook County, Il., judges aren't throwing the book at people convicted of gun crimes, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis has found. One year in prison is the minimum sentence in Illinois for illegal possession of a gun. The maximum is three. In Chicago, most people convicted of illegal gun possession are getting the minimum, one year. For the more serious charge of being a felon in possession of a gun, the minimum sentence is two years in prison. The maximum is 10 years. In Chicago, felons illegally possessing a gun typically get four years, toward the low end of the state sentencing guidelines.

Those are the sentences judges hand out, not the actual prison time. Most people convicted of these gun crimes serve less than half of their prison terms because of “good time” that inmates can get credit for under state law, in addition to credit for time in jail awaiting trial. New York, by comparison, has a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 1/2 years for simple gun possession. Prison time for gun crimes has become an increasingly politicized issue in Chicago, which remains in the national spotlight for gun violence. Even as the number of shooting deaths has fallen in Chicago in recent years, the city's murder rate is still far higher than in New York or Los Angeles.

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