Bill Increases Sentences for Repeat Weapons Offenders in Illinois

Repeat weapons offenders in Illinois are the target of the new Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act, which advocates tougher sentencing guidelines for frequent gun offenders.

The legislation was put forward by Illinois state senator Kwame Raoul. It proposes tougher sentences for repeat weapons offenders in Illinois.

However, critics warn the bill could increase overcrowding in the state’s already teeming jails.

Sentences increased for weapons offenders

Sentences increased for weapons offenders

The Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act progressed after extensive consultations with legislators and judges on both sides of the aisle. If you commit multiple weapons offences, this legislation stands to impact you.

What Would the Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act Mean for Repeat Weapons Offenders?

The legislation creates a more stringent sentencing guideline for repeat offenders. Rather than judges considering sentences in the typical range of three-to 14-years, the act encourages them to hand out sentences ranging from seven to 14 years in jail, depending on the offense.

Raoul said the bill is intended to stop people who are more likely to repeatedly commit gun crimes from being able to do so. He argued they can be rehabilitated during their prison terms in an effort to make them less likely to offend in the future.

What Are Opponents of the Bill Saying?

State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, who represents the 5th Senate District of Illinois, wrote a scathing critique of the Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act in the Chicago Tribune.

She said it was a myth to claim this is not another tough-on-crime law that will lead to the “mass incarceration of black and brown males.”

Although some of the provisions in the bill started life as recommendations from a bipartisan commission, Van Pelt said Raoul’s proposal to increase sentences for people arrested for unlawful possession of a gun was not a commission recommendation.

She said the proposed legislation is worse than mandatory minimum jail sentences under a different name because it retains mandatory jail minimums for offenders with second-time gun possession convictions.

It then “stacks” another method of sentencing on top of them. She claimed jail sentences would be doubled for most people.

An analysis of the bill’s provisions by the nonpartisan Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, estimated the change would add at least 200 people every year to already overcrowded prisons in Illinois and cost as much as $8 million in the first three years.

The bill’s authors claim it will be a deterrent leading to a decrease of 1,471 weapons offenders over a decade.

Van Pelt also took issue with the claim judges will not lose their discretion in sentencing and will do nothing to address to flow of illegal guns into crime-ridden communities.

At Abdallah Law, we are committed to providing a vigorous defense to people who are charged with weapons crimes. The prospect of even higher sentences for repeat weapons offenders in Illinois, makes it vital to obtain experienced legal representation as soon as possible. Call us at (312) 229-0008.