A gun control bill that got stalled in the state legislature this year, which calls for stiffer sentences for gun crimes, could lead to increased prison crowding in Illinois.
The legislation proposed by State Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Chicago) would have required that those convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon with a gun, and felons convicted of using a gun, serve 85 percent of their sentences. The bill would also impose harsher sentences for those convicted of crimes involving guns.
In a recent WGN interview with Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano, Zalewski says he will work to reconfigure the bill and propose it once again. Zalewski's bill was thrust into the spotlight after the mass shooting at Cornell Park last month because one of the shooter's had been convicted of a gun crime last year, but instead of receiving prison time, as prosecutors had requested, the alleged gang member and park shooter, Bryon Champ, was sentenced to a 16-week boot camp.
Officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections say the bill could lead to prison overcrowding, adding an additional 3,900 inmates to the system. A spokesman for the state Department of Corrections says Illinois would need at least one more prison to handle the additional load. It is estimated that the operation costs of the increased inmates would be approximately $700 million.
Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says the leader is considering the measure, but says the state of Illinois is not in a position in which "additional costs can be overlooked."