Senate OKs Tougher Sentences for Repeat Gun Offenders

The Illinois Senate has approved tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders aimed at reducing violence on Chicago's streets.

The Senate voted 35-9 Thursday for Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul's proposal. It would encourage judges to impose longer prison sentences within existing guidelines for gun crimes committed by those who have firearm violence on their records.

Chicago recorded more homicides last year than New York City and Los Angeles combined. 

Critics claim the measure would lock up more minorities when the state should concentrate on creating jobs and opportunity for impoverished neighborhoods. 

Raoul countered it would apply to people facing sentencing anyway. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told a Senate committee in March that criminals tell him they don't fear the state's judicial system.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded the Senate for passing the bill.

"If we are going to achieve the level of safety every resident deserves, we need a justice system that actually holds repeat gun offenders accountable for the crimes they commit and the violence they drive," Emanuel said in a statement. "I want to thank Senator Tony Munoz and Senator Kwame Raoul, along with the support of the State Senate, for their leadership in ensuring repeat gun offenders get sentences that match the severity of their crimes. Combined with social supports like mentoring, investments in neighborhoods and new predictive policing strategies, this bill would help us continue to improve public safety in every corner of the city."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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