Chicago Sun-Times
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Rahm and McCarthy renew push for tougher sentencing for gun crimes

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Every Monday, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy pushes his proposal for truth-in-sentencing and mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes by talking about the weekend victims and perpetrators who wouldn't have been on the streets if not for lenient sentencing.

This week's list included one murder victim and four shooting victims. All of them would have been in prison if there has been mandatory minimums and "truth-in-sentencing" laws, the superintendent said.

"The fact is, it's the same group of individuals--super-heated group who are offenders today and victims tomorrow," McCarthy said.

"There is a disturbing trend of convicted criminals not being held fully accountable for violent behavior and ending up back on the street when incarceration is warranted. The result is more violence--sometimes against innocent community members and sometimes against the offenders themselves....We can provide the best policing in the world, but we need common-sense legislation to keep illegal guns off of our streets and stronger laws to punish the dangerous criminals who carry illegal firearms. It's critical."

With Cook County Jail filled and Gov. Pat Quinn closing state prisons to save money, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked where Illinois would put all of the criminals if the General Assembly passes his plan to triple--to three years--the minimum required sentence for anyone convicted of gun possession, raises the minimum sentence for felons caught with guns from two-to-three years and requires everyone convicted of felony gun possession to serve 85 percent of their sentences.

Emanuel responded by pointing to his own plan to issue tickets for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Is the mayor suggesting that there are other non-violent crimes that state lawmakers should consider de-criminalizing to free up space in state prisons for gun offenders?

"I kind of look at it the reverse way: I don't want any room on the streets for people committing gun crimes. That's No. 1. That's where there is no room," the mayor said.

Pointing to pot tickets, Emanuel said, "I've already given you one example we already did. The Legislature can look at other places if they want to make changes. But, if you've committed a gun crime, you should serve the time. And if...we have a one-year minimum and they're not even serving the full one year and a gang member in the Chicago Sun-Times notes that it's not a deterrent--[something needs to be done]...The Police Department cannot be spending their time constantly chasing the same people who are both becoming either victims or perpetrators of crime.'


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