√ CHECK. WE DID THIS! **Update: SB1342 was not called for a vote during the December session of the General Assembly! This is great news for the moment, but a version of SB1342 is sure to be reintroduced in the Spring session, so we need to keep up the resistance.** SB1342 contains devastating new mandatory minimum prison sentences for people convicted of weapons-related offenses in Illinois. This post contains an easy link to contact your representatives and speak out.
Right now, Rahm Emanuel is pressing hard for a bill that would increase the mandatory minimum sentences for weapons-related offenses. This bill, SB1342, would be a disaster for Illinois for 3 main reasons:
1. Mandatory minimums do not deter crime
- There is no credible evidence that imposing mandatory minimum sentences leads to crime reduction. States that have implemented mandatory minimums have found them to be ineffective. For example, a study of Florida’s 3 year mandatory minimum for weapons offenses found that it “did not have a measurable deterrent effect on violent crime.” Mandatory minimum sentences simply sweep more people into the prison system for longer periods of time without a measurable benefit to public safety.
2. Mandatory minimums destroy lives.
- Mandatory minimums take the law out of the hands of judges, requiring them to impose draconian sentences when they are not warranted. Young people slapped with mandatory minimum sentences under SB1342 would face drastically reduced prospects in life, benefitting no one. Judges should be able to weigh the circumstances before them and exercise discretion, not be forced into a lazy “one size fits all” approach.
3. Mandatory minimums are too costly.
- If enacted, SB1342 will increase the already-swollen prison population by 2,500 and cost $550,000,000, funds that would be much better spent on efforts that are proven to reduce violence, such as generating jobs, investing in schools, and providing physical and mental health care. Given how ineffective mandatory minimums have proven to be, the costs of implementing a new mandatory minimum in Illinois cannot be justified.