By Sheila A. Bedi
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to introduce a mandatory prison sentence for anyone caught with an illegal firearm. But reams of data shows that incarceration creates more crime.
The NAACP has been saying it for decades. A few years ago, Newt Gingrich realized it was true. The ACLU has filed lawsuits to end it. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are beginning to understand it. Texas Governor Rick Perry, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal are all on board.
What realization could possibly inspire consensus from such diverse voices? It is the understanding of the horrors of mass incarceration.
One in 100 adults in the U.S. lives behind bars. One in nine African-American men are imprisoned. This country’s addiction to incarceration has not made us safer, but has instead imposed upon us an untenable, senseless tax while unfairly targeting poor communities of color and perpetuating crime and violence in our neighborhoods. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and activists on the left and the right are taking action to roll back imprisonment rates.
So why, then, is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lobbying the Illinois legislature to funnel more people into prison for longer? During the recent veto session last week, Emanuel requested that the legislature impose a mandatory three-year prison term on people who are convicted for the unlawful possession of a firearm.
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