Despite making changes to appease some state lawmakers, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to crack down on gun violence still would add thousands of inmates and millions of dollars in costs to the state’s prison system.
According to new figures submitted by the Illinois Department of Corrections, the mayor’s revamped bid for stiffer gun penalties would result in 2,478 more inmates in a system that is already overcrowded.
That figure is down slightly from the nearly 3,000 inmates predicted under an initial, tougher version of the proposal.
Prison officials also said it would add $549 million in operating and construction costs over a 10 year span, down from an earlier estimate of $713 million.
The original proposal would have required three-year mandatory sentences for first-time gun offenders. The sponsor, state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, stripped that provision out of the legislation in hopes of gaining support from his colleagues.
Under the measure, unlawful possession of a weapon by a repeat offender would carry a minimum sentence of four years in prison. Inmates also would be required to serve 85 percent of their sentences.
While the changes did gain support from the National Rifle Association, African-American lawmakers blocked movement on the initiative earlier this month over concerns that it would take discretion out of the hands of judges and give it to county prosecutors.