Officials blame weak sentencing for murder rate
Chicago is not the only city dealing with an increase in murders, Detroit’s murder rate up by about 12 percent. St. Louis is also dealing with something similar.
It is the fact that Chicago went over that 500 number that gained it some national attention. In New York the number was a little over 400 murders. Some will tell you maybe Chicago needs to follow what New York is doing to get the rate to drop.
Chicago’s beautiful skyline– New York’s massive one. Two stunning views but staring down completely different pictures.
While Chicago is battling the title as the nation’s murder capital, New York, three times its size, celebrates its lowest murder rate in half a century.
“Their laws are stronger when it comes to guns.” State’s attorney Anita Alvarez points to stiffer sentences for gun crimes as one key difference between the two cities. The minimum sentence in Chicago—one year– which means “We’ve seen cases where they’ve served 61 days.”
In New York– the minimum is three and a half years.
“If mandatory minimums existed in Illinois, he would not be able to commit this heinous act,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy this week talking about one of the suspects in the Hadiya Pendleton case.
He was on probation for a gun crime when he killed the 15-year-old. Alvarez agrees the case for stricter penalties is stacking up. “If we can keep them off the streets longer we will see a difference,” she said.
At the University of Chicago crime lab they have crunched the numbers. “In many ways Chicago is not New York, you can’t just copy what they’re doing.”
But you can study it, and Harold says raising the minimum can help.
“Here in Chicago we’ve done a good job with police very focused on firearms. Meaning state’s attorney, prosecutors and judges. Why? We need to have a change in mindset.”
In the end it is up to judges to impose the tougher penalties. Of course there are concerns of what longer sentences may do to the state’s prison system when there is already no money.
“Do I think that it’s something that’s doable?” Alvarez said “Yes I do– we won’t be overburdened by this.”
Going to Springfield to raise the minimum, Alvarez has asked prosecutors to automatically ask for the maximum sentence in all cases regardless of how they think a judge may react to it. Springfield will take this up in the spring.