It’s the weekend so if you have a couple of hours to spare, please show your opposition to SB1342 by creating an anti-mandatory minimum meme. If you need some inspiration, our friend and supporter Suey created some terrific memes. Examples can be found HERE.
Please send your memes to us at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 26th. We will upload all of them at our new Mandatory Moratorium Tumblr.
Here are some talking points that might help as you craft your memes.
Mandatory Prison Sentences and Gun Violence
Decades of empirical evidence and evaluations of specific state experiences demonstrate that mandatory sentences, regardless of length, will not reduce gun violence.
- Research shows that certainty of apprehension, not the severity of the ensuing legal consequence, is the most effective deterrent.
- Because most gun possession defendants are under the age of 25 (and nearly half are under the age of 21), and because research shows that young people are especially unlikely to be deterred by major changes to criminal penalties, mandatory minimums are even more unlikely to deter illegal gun possession.
- Decades of experience and research into mandatory sentences has resulted in a national trend away from mandatory sentencing laws as a crime reduction tool.
New mandatory minimum sentences mean unnecessary state, local, public safety, community, and justice costs.
- Additional mandatory sentences will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in increased prison costs. Likewise, county costs will rise due to the longer case processing times and higher court-ordered bail amounts.
- Proponents claim communities are safer during the time a prisoner serves longer mandatory minimum sentences. But that claim ignores the fact that incarceration increases the likelihood of recidivism, weakens communities, and contributes to making some prisoners even more dangerous and unemployable upon release.
- Mandatory sentences remove neutral judgment from sentencing and require judges to unnecessarily imprison individuals regardless of their personal circumstances.
Targeted interventions and evidence-based programming are more promising, proven solutions to gun violence.
- Research demonstrates that problem-oriented policing, such as initiatives which focus police resources on high-risk places at high-risk times, are far more effective than mandatory minimums.
- Intervention initiatives that target high-risk youth are another proven, low-cost strategy that may reduce arrests for violent crime by up to 50% (an estimate by the University of Chicago Crime Lab projected that the previous, broader mandatory minimum sentencing proposal could reduce violent crime arrests by at most 0.6%).
- After failing to reduce gun violence through mandatory minimums for unlicensed gun possession, Boston measurably reduced gun violence by targeting illicit firearms trafficking in conjunction with individualized interventions and alternatives to prosecution. Firearm violence fell by 68% in one year.
Analysis of the Emanuel-NRA compromise amendment completed by the Department of Corrections estimates an additional 2,478 inmates and $549,060,700 over ten years. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, Illinois analyses do not usually include an additional 42% of associated costs that are contained in the budgets of other state agencies (e.g. Central Management Services). This brings the total cost of the current bill to almost $780M.
Only 2% of the prison budget goes to rehabilitative services, and mandatory sentences ensure that programs like Adult Redeploy are unavailable to people who carry guns.
The proposed law does not put a cap on the age or type of felony that subjects people to mandatory minimum sentences. People with minor drug possession and retail theft convictions will have to be viewed the same as “career violent criminals.”
Negotiations to amend the bill excluded voices from the communities most affected by gun violence.
Felony designations disproportionately affect communities of color. This bill will do the same. Concentrated incarceration makes communities more dangerous.
Prosecutors use long mandatory sentences to extract plea deals, but sentencing should be done by neutral judges.
Removing judicial discretion ensures that low-level, nonviolent offenders will receive prison sentences that could make them more dangerous.
There’s universal agreement that a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill is needed. This bill takes a counterproductive, piecemeal approach to gun violence.
There should be a moratorium on mandatory prison sentences.