Emanuel, gun victims’ families push for tougher gun penalties

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Mayor Emanuel, Chicago’s law enforcement leaders and families who have lost loved ones to gun violence are pushing Illinois lawmakers to pass a bill that would impose tougher penalties on people who break gun laws.

A bill pending in the General Assembly would raise the mandatory minimum prison term for illegal gun possession from one to three years.

Emanuel says 100 people involved in shootings and murders in Chicago this year would have been in prison if tougher sentencing policies already were in place.

He pointed out that current violators face the same penalties as shoplifters.

But a prison watchdog group says the proposed law would take away a judge’s discretion to sentence offenders to boot camp instead of prison.

They say inmates who complete alternative sentencing programs are less likely to become repeat offenders.

At a City Hall news conference Tuesday,  mothers of shooting victims urged legislators to pass the measure.

Carolyn Wortham, whose son, Officer Thomas Wortham IV, was shot to death outside her home three years ago, says she believes her son would still be alive today because the killer would have been in prison.

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