Post Date: February 24, 2014
(The Illinois Observer) – An Illinois lawmaker is seeking to win approval of an anti-crime legislative package from a key House committee this week.
State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) will be presenting his “smart on crime” package at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Zalewski aims to move forward on the Illinois mandatory minimum sentences initiative for serious gun crimes, an issue that has lingered after stalling during the fall 2013 veto session.
Since the fall, Zalewski claims to have worked through opponents’ concerns and says this package of bills address complaints that the mandatory minimum sentences approach would ignore broader problems in Illinois’ penal system. Additionally, he won “rare support” for his changes from the National Rifle Association and gun-rights legislators.
“I’m still committed to seeing our state put the worst of the worst behind bars when they intend to commit serious crimes with guns,” Zalewski said. “But I also recognize we have to get smarter on crime, not just tougher.”
Experts will testify on Wednesday about the impact of the bills and how “they could help to reprioritize who is ending up in the state prison system”, according to Zalewski.
“I’m hopeful these changes will spur a good discussion about how we can ease the burden on our swamped prison system while making sure that we’re putting those who need such serious punishment behind bars,” said Zalewski.
The committee hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday in Room C-1 of the Stratton Building. Read more