Mandatory minimums to be debated this week

Jul 14, 2014

A panel of Illinois state lawmakers Tuesday is scheduled to debate how long convicted criminals should spend in prison for certain crimes. IPR's Tony Arnold reports.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy frequently blames Springfield politicians for the city’s gun violence. He says nobody’s afraid of Illinois’ gun laws.

But state lawmakers have resisted the idea to put gun offenders in prison for longer periods of time, in part because criminologists are skeptical harsher sentences deter crime.

Democratic State Senator Michael Noland from west suburban Elgin is a co-chair of this special committee. He says they’ll likely debate McCarthy’s ideas.

"We should ask to what extent should we perhaps employ some of the policies that he’s recommending while at the same time consider relaxing some of the other sentences that we currently maintain for drug possession, for example."

Noland says increasing the time an inmate spends behind bars has added significant costs to the prisons budget which currently costs Illinois taxpayers more than a billion dollars a year.