Springfield, IL – A Democratic Illinois state representative has proposed legislation that would remove some mandatory sentencing enhancements for gun crimes.
Illinois State Representative LaShawn Ford introduced Illinois House Bill 2989 in the legislature on Feb. 19 and amended the bill with changes a month later, according to the Illinois General Assembly website.
HB 2989 would remove mandatory sentence enhancements and allow the presiding judge to determine whether to add enhancements for gun-related felonies that could keep the defendant in jail an additional 10 years or more.
Retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Berman said he supported the proposed measure, WJOL reported.
Berman said that judges should be able to determine sentences that they’ve historically been entrusted with the discretion to decide.
“Trust your judges,” the retired judge said. “The rationale for having judges in the first place is to have a thoughtful, fair-minded person consider the unique circumstances of each case and each defendant when imposing sentence.”
But GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee reviewing the legislation opposed HR 2989, The Center Square reported.
Critics have pointed out the same committee that has enacted gun control reforms and continues to try to place restrictions on legal gun ownership had proposed getting rid of longer sentences for gun offenders.
“Paralleling this all across the General Assembly are lots of bills being thrown out there to restrict the use of firearms and restrict access to firearms of law-abiding citizens,” GOP Illinois State Representative Chris Bos said, according to The Center Square. “These are the very people that are committing the crimes that we need to be going after.”
Ford said he would propose additional amendments to the bill in an effort to reach a compromise and return it to the committee for reconsideration, WJOL reported.
“I’m grateful to my colleagues for their willingness to bring reasonable and responsible criminal sentencing to our state – and end the injustice of mandatory additions of decades to sentences when the facts of a case don’t call for them,” the bill’s author said on Friday.
Supporters of HR 2989 said they were thrilled because sentencing enhancements forced defendants to do an unfair amount of time in prison, WJOL reported.
“These types of sentencing enhancements do not deter crime,” Scott Main, an attorney for the Illinois Juvenile Defender Resource Center, said.