FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
At 1 p.m. on Friday, November 1 2013, community members from across Chicago will gather for a press conference at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (5114 S. Elizabeth Street) to voice our collective opposition to the SB 1342 mandatory minimum gun bill.
Too many of youth of color are lost to gun violence. We need safer neighborhoods, but we also know that locking more people up for longer isn’t the same thing as community safety.
We understand that many of those who advocate increasing the time served for unlicensed gun possession through the use of mandatory minimums believe that they are doing the right thing. However because SB 1342 takes away time served for good behavior, the bill would push sentences to unprecedented levels. Mayor Emanuel’s proposal will increase already overcrowded Illinois’ prison population by about 4,000 inmates and cost taxpayers more than $1 billion over ten years.
Under this law, senior citizens who are caught with an unlicensed gun will get more prison time than people who have actually hurt someone. People with a record decades old are treated the same as those who are causing major trouble. And there is little motivation for people to better themselves in prison, since programming is unavailable and they won’t be able to earn much time off their sentence.
We don’t want illegal guns in our communities, but we do want some common sense. We are always promised that bills like this are supposed to keep us safe and that they will be equally harsh on all lawbreakers. But we can look around our neighborhoods, the ones actually suffering from gun violence, and know better.
Although colorblind approaches to addressing the problems of poor people of color often seem pragmatic in the short run, in the long run they are counterproductive. … It is not an overstatement to say the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States would not have been possible in the post-civil rights era if the nation had not fallen under the spell of a callous colorblindness.
Source: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (pp. 240-241).
We strongly oppose SB 1342. Attached is an outline of what this bill does. Sentences for simple gun possession are already pretty tough. Also, people who actually do commit crimes with a gun have at least 15 years added to their sentence.
A recent report from over 30 criminal justice, sociology, and law professors explains why these sentences won’t protect our community.
On Friday, we will express our opposition to this effort and call for a more equal distribution of police resources and better economic investment and social services in our neighborhoods, instead.
The following organizations have endorsed this press conference:
Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression
Community Justice for Youth Institute
Free Write Jail Arts & Literacy Program
Illinois Campaign to End the New Jim Crow
John Howard Association
Juvenile Justice Support Network (JJSN)
Lawndale Christian Legal Center
New Life Centers of Chicagoland
Occupy Rogers Park
Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation
Uptown People Law’s Office
Women’s All Points Bulletin