State

Illinois gun bill could further crowd prisons

SPRINGFIELD — Chicago officials want to make it tougher on thugs packing weapons.

But legislation to increase prison time for illegal gun possession flies in the face of high-profile and competing policy issues.

The bill is sponsored by suburban Cook County Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat. It would impose mandatory sentences and longer prison time for unlawful use of weapon.

But a state analysis says if it became law it would cost Illinois $1 billion over the next decade and pump thousands more inmates into Illinois' packed prison system.

John Maki is director of the monitoring group the John Howard Association. He disagrees with supporters that longer sentences deter gun crimes. He says the law would not be worth the exorbitant cost.

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The bill is HB2265.

Online: http://www.ilga.gov

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