Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Jails Have Become a 'Revolving Door'

By Erica Demarest on April 1, 2013 4:38pm 

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about Chicago's policing strategies at the Calumet police station on Monday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about Chicago's policing strategies at the Calumet police station on Monday.
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

PULLMAN — Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on Monday for mandatory sentences of at least three years for gun crimes, as he talked Chicago safety strategies alongside Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

“We have a one-year minimum, and [convicted criminals] are not even serving the full one year,” Emanuel said at the Calumet District police station.

“Time in jail has become like a revolving door, and clearly, it’s not a deterrent,” he said. “If you commit a gun crime, you should do the time.”

Since January, Chicago police have confiscated more than 1,725 illegal guns, McCarthy said. And in 2012, the city seized nine times as many guns as New York City.

Police document a “disturbing trend,” McCarthy said, in which convicted criminals routinely serve brief sentences and are back on the streets committing felonies shortly after their release.

“They become offenders today and victims tomorrow,” McCarthy said.

“We’re chasing the same people,” Emanuel added.

In 2013 alone, McCarthy said, there have been 47 shootings and murders that could’ve been prevented if the offenders were still incarcerated with longer sentences.

“Any gun legislation coming out of Springfield should include a three-year minimum for all gun crimes committed," Emanuel said.

Despite legislative concerns, Emanuel and McCarthy said Chicago's targeted police strategies — such as employing overtime officers in "hotspots" — are working.

In March, police documented 16 homicides — a 69 percent drop compared to March 2012, when 52 people were murdered.

What more, McCarthy said, Chicago has seen a 43 percent drop in homicides in the first three months of 2013. Numbers that low haven’t been recorded since 1959.

“Those are not statistics,” McCarthy said. “Those are individuals. There were 65 less people murdered today than there were a year ago. This is not a victory. Zero murders would be a victory. But this is certainly progress.”

Emanuel said the city will continue to tweak its approach.

“There will be good days and bad days,” Emanuel said. “The question is: Are we ... providing security so that Pullman is as safe as Portage Park, Woodlawn is as safe was Wildwood, Roseland is as safe as Rogers Park, and South Shore is as safe as Sauganash?”

“I’m not celebrating,” he continued. “We have a lot more work to do.”

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