Chicago has been plagued by violent gun crimes, with over 443 murders last year. Efforts to reduce gun violence have been discussed and implemented with less than successful results. Now, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel wants lawmakers to increase sentences for those convicted of gun crimes, one of the most respected and recognized advocates for criminal justice reform disagrees.
Glen Martin, Director of The Fortune Society’s David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy (DRCCP), felt compelled to respond to a New York Times article, Chicago Mayor Seeks More Prison Time for Gun Crimes. click here to go to website
In the latest issue of the DRCCP Weekly Update, Martin shares his letter to the Editor of the New York Times.
To the Editor:
Re “Chicago Mayor Seeks More Prison Time for Gun Crimes” (news article, Feb. 12):
Mandatory minimums for gun crimes is a Band-Aid solution to a serious problem. Instead, Chicago should look to New York as a model for reducing crime and invest in effective public safety programs.
It’s no coincidence that New York’s incarceration rate is at an all-time low and crime has simultaneously been drastically reduced. The state has the country’s largest network of alternative to incarceration and re-entry programs. New York recognizes the value of early intervention programs that save money, reduce prison costs and better protect communities.
Research shows that people in poor communities of color are at greater risk of entering the criminal justice system because of the scarcity of prevention programs and community resources. Policy makers in Chicago need to stop relying on harsh punishments and instead find smarter, evidence-based strategies to reduce crime and our overreliance on incarceration.
Glenn E. Martin
Martin’s advice makes sense. Since the majority of prisoners will be released back into the community one day more and better reentry programs should be available. Equally important, are efforts to prevent individuals, particularly young people, from getting involved in criminal activities.
Chicago has nothing to lose by following Martin’s suggestions. The city has lost over 40 lives last month alone. Perhaps by trying a different approach to reducing violence and other crimes, such as the approach suggested by Martin, Chicago will never see such a bloody month in its history again.