Reasonable Doubt About Mandatory Sentences

Post Date: October 18, 2013

(Chicago Tribune) — The idea has a lot of common-sense appeal: Cut crime by imposing mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain offenses. The longer you lock up evildoers, the less evil they will be able to do.

It’s at the heart of Illinois House Bill 2265, a proposal pending in Springfield to enhance sanctions on those convicted of unlawfully using weapons, and at the heart of a zesty public policy debate among academics, public officials and law enforcement leaders.

You may have followed it on these pages.

First, a guest essay this month by John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, a nonpartisan prison watchdog group:

“If enacted,” Maki wrote, “mandatory minimums will cost Illinois taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, robbing us of the resources we need to address the root causes of violence and making conditions on Chicago’s streets even worse.”  Read more