DOWNTOWN — Gun violence in Chicago cannot be reduced by just focusing on tougher gun and sentencing laws, but will need to include efforts to reduce instances of repeated gun offenders and prison recidivism rates, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday.
Rauner was Downtown Thursday to tout one piece of his criminal justice reform initiative, a bill that will make it easier for soon-to-be-released inmates to get state identification cards. The bill has already been unanimously passed by the state Senate, Rauner said.
The governor did not, however, mention whether he supported any new changes to state sentencing and gun laws that city and police officials have asked for repeatedly.
Tougher sentencing and stronger laws on gun possession would go a long way towards reducing the gun violence that has spiked this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson have said.
Johnson has especially ramped up the effort to change state laws regarding gun offenses. Many of the violent crimes in the city are committed by repeat gun offenders and gang members, including the recent shooting of a man near Millennium Park last weekend, police have said.
"All of us who can search police records and news clips can point to a reprehensible murder or shooting that happens and say we wish we had a way to hold a repeat offenders accountable for their violence acts," Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro said at a Monday news conference. "By failing to serve sufficient penalties, the offenders have nothing to fear."
Rauner said there are "some efforts" aimed at stiffening penalties for gun and repeat violent offenders, and pointed to a bill by State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), that would use data to tackle gun offenders.
Asked about the superintendent's pleas for tougher sentencing, Raoul said the legislature is looking at existing sentencing guidelines to see what can be strengthened.
Rauner said his administration is focusing its efforts on criminal justice reform that aim to better equip former convicts to life after prison.
"Violent offenders should be punished and kept away from innocent people," Rauner said at Treatment Alternatives For Safe Communities, 700 S. Clinton St. "We cannot only focus on punishment."
Rauner said he wants to aid treatment and education programs for ex-offenders that will keep them out of future trouble with the legal system. He touted the bill that would give inmates easier access to ID cards, and said a commission on justice reform had four other legislative ideas he said he would support.
"We're about second chances ... reducing recidivism," Rauner said. "We want those that have paid their debt to society to come back and lead productive lives."
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