SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) has filed SR 223 a resolution calling on United States Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk to seek a commitment from the new United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois to aggressively pursue federal prosecution of firearms offenses within the Northern District. Brady says that greater prosecution of violent gun crime will enhance safety and security in the Northern District, will result in significant savings for Illinois taxpayers, and reduce the overcrowding in already overwhelmed Illinois prisons that often leads to early release.
“In the City of Chicago in 2012 there were more than 500 homicides reported, the vast majority of which involved the use of firearms,” said Brady. “We know from recent media reports that those convicted of firearms offenses in Chicago and Cook County get minimal and often inconsistent punishment.
“Greater federal prosecution of these crimes would not only act as a deterrent, making the streets safer, but prosecution by the federal government would also result in significant savings for Illinois taxpayers as criminals prosecuted by the federal government would be housed in federal prisons,” said Brady. “In Illinois it costs $21,000 a year to house an inmate at state prisons.
“In addition to the obvious cost savings, housing these convicted criminals in federal prisons would relieve overcrowding in Illinois’ already overburdened correctional facilities,” said Brady. “Federal prisons don’t have the overcrowding problem that facilities in Illinois’ correctional system do. Just look at Thomson Prison, which was recently sold to the federal government. It’s sitting empty.”
Beyond the benefits of saving taxpayer money and reducing overcrowding, most federal prisons are further downstate which means that gang members convicted of gun-related crimes and incarcerated in federal prison would be housed far away from their gangs, making it more difficult for leaders to continue to run gangs from prison.
Chicago ranks lowest in prosecuting gun-related violence. In 2011 the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago prosecuted, according to some, just 25 gun-related murders.
“Chicago spends too much of its resources and taxpayer money locking people up for non-violent crimes in hopes of stopping violent crime before it starts, but this strategy clearly isn’t working. We need to re-prioritize how these resources are allocated,” said Brady. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was recently quoted saying it costs an average of $143 a day to keep a person in a Cook County jail with an average stay of 57 days. That adds up to an average of $8,151 just to hold a non-violent offender in jail.
“Greater federal prosecution not only serves as a deterrent to criminals, but also frees up local resources so that local police can spend more time and energy working within communities to increase safety,” said Brady. “More federal prosecution is an effective means of combating violence in our communities.”
Brady’s resolution also calls for greater collaboration between local and federal law enforcement agencies and the referral of firearms offenses that qualify for federal prosecution to the federal government. According to Brady, other cities that have moved toward this style of collaborative zero-tolerance enforcement and education have proven that when local and federal law enforcement agencies work collaboratively to prosecute these violent crimes, crime rates drop.
“We all agree that we need to do something to curb gun violence and I believe that through more comprehensive prosecution of these cases we can ensure that our communities and state are safe from increasing gang violence and other violent crimes, as well as saving the taxpayers some money along the way.”