A plan to increase prison time in Illinois for gun crimes hit a brick wall Thursday at the state capitol.
Opponents of the measure used a parliamentary procedure to block the bill on the last day of the fall veto session. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing for mandatory minimums prison sentences for certain gun crimes. His allies in Springfield negotiated with the National Rifle Association to overcome objections that law-abiding gun owners could be caught up in the plan. But they could not get past the Black Caucus. Rep. Ken Dunkin, a Democrat from Chicago, filed a routine request for how much the legislation would cost in terms of new prisoners. The state Department of Corrections didn't respond by the time the legislation came up, so the House adjourned without taking action: "The mayor of the city of Chicago needs to work with all of us. He needs to work with the largest constituency in his city, as well as us down here."
Dunkin is chairman of the Black Caucus. He says if there's more investment in violence prevention programs, his members could be persuaded to support the higher minimum prison sentences. Others, however, say increasing prison time does not actually do anything to deter crime, and more police would be a better solution.
The bill is SB1342.