Does Illinois need tougher laws against “repeat gun offenders?” Most people might say yes, and certainly Mayor Emanuel and Police Supt. Johnson want them.
A couple of questions, however.
First, don’t we already have very tough laws covering violent offenders who use guns to commit crimes?
Wouldn’t the stiffened laws tend to catch people who might be carrying an unregistered gun for what they consider necessary protection in our violent city, but who have no intention to use the weapon illegally, and never have done so?
And perhaps most importantly, when nine in ten people who shoot another human being are never caught by the Chicago Police Department, isn’t discussion about people carrying unregistered firearms a little beside the point?
Stephanie Kollmann is this week’s guest. She testified against certain aspects of HB 1722 recently in Springfield, pointing out that what Illinois really needs is a comprehensive plan to reduce the violence at the source, not simply a plan to incarcerate more people.
Kollmann was a lead author of the recent report Building a Safe Chicago, which argues for a radical re-distribution of State funding. Claiming that Illinois has increased expenditures for incarceration by more than $4 billion annually for the last 30 years, the report asserts:
A large-scale shift in public spending priorities is required. At annual spending of $4.5 billion above 1982 levels, Illinois’ overinvestment in the criminal justice system is an amount of money equivalent to providing:
- 25,000 new living wage jobs ($2.5 billion),
- Quality after-school care for 100,000 children living in poverty ($44million),
- 43,000 families with affordable housing via Renters Tax Credits ($203million),
- and 20,000 new social workers, psychologists, conflict mediators, mental health counselors, and drug treatment counselors ($1.3 billion)
You can listen to this show on SoundCloud HERE