No to mandatory minimum prison sentences

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I am writing today to express my support for the initiative of the State House Black Caucus to block the latest incarnation of a bill involving mandatory minimum prison sentences. The bill has been under negotiation for some time with the caucus expressing their concern that mandatory minimums have proven ineffective in addressing crime and recidivism, have had a devastating disproportionate impact on African Americans, and have imposed a very significant, unnecessary burden on taxpayers and reduced scarce state resources for education and other priorities.

There is growing awareness, both on the national and local levels, that mass incarceration is a failed policy, and there is a need for alternative crime prevention and reduction strategies and programs to reduce recidivism. The bipartisan efforts I have participated in creating at the federal level have demonstrated that such alternative programs are effective in reducing crime, recidivism and cost, but unfortunately the United States still leads the developed world in the share of our population behind bars, and the African-American community is still disproportionately impacted by these policies.

I know it is politically seductive in some circles to suggest that longer prison sentences will solve our social problems, but as prison budgets consume a larger and larger share of public resources, there is a growing recognition that these simplistic fixes are unsustainable as well as ineffective. I salute State Rep. Ken Dunkin and the other members of the State House Black Caucus for standing up to the National Rifle Association and other forces and demanding a comprehensive, evidenced-based approach to fighting crime.

Danny K. Davis

Congressman, 7th District

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joe from south oak park  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 11:01 PM

the NIU student should be handled down to a plea misdemeanor charge and a fine, but I would think the gang member would serve some time.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 10:58 PM

Rep Davis- Maybe you should check your mirrors... The NRA is actually with you on this matter as this bill lumps non-violent first time offenders in with violent offenders and felons. The OIF veteran that was arrested this week at NIU for having a disassembled firearm in campus housing is a good example. Under these mandatory sentencing laws this student would be facing the same mandatory minimum sentence as a known street gang member arrested for carrying illegally.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 7:53 PM

"If you can't do the time don't do the crime". The sentences are not long enough! Too often the criminals are back on the streets without serving a complete sentence. I have no use for any criminal, however I reserve an intense hatred for those who physically injure of kill innocent citizens. Rep. Davis it is time for you to retire, please.

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