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Two very different shootings

Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014

* A completely preventable near-tragedy

A 15-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the abdomen [yeserday] morning by his brother in a home near Harvard, authorities said.

The brothers found an unsecured .22 caliber rifle and were playing with it, thinking it was unloaded, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.

One juvenile pulled the trigger, shooting his brother in the abdomen, according to the release. The boy was listed in stable condition at Rockford Memorial Hospital, where he was undergoing surgery, the release said. […]

The brothers had been staying there with adults while their parents were out of town, authorities said. The parents of the juveniles have been notified.

* And for the life of me, I just don’t understand this

A 13-year-old boy was in police custody [yesterday] afternoon for the shooting of three boys, ages 14 and 17, Monday in the Longwood Manor neighborhood on the Far South Side, authorities said.

The victims were standing on a street corner in the 9700 block of South Lowe Avenue when a group of people approached and someone opened fire around 6 p.m. Monday, Police News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala said.

One boy, 17, was shot in the head and armpit and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in critical condition, Zala said. Another victim, 14, was taken in critical condition at Little Company of Mary Hospital with gunshot wounds to his chest and arm. Police said the third boy, also 14, was stable at Little Company of Mary with a wound to his right thigh.


…Adding... On a somewhat related note, when Rep. Mike Zalewski introduced legislation earlier this year to increase mandatory penalties for some Chicago gun crimes, it appeared to be a slam dunk. But opposition from African-American and other lawmakers fed up with mandatory minimums stopped the bill dead in its tracks. There’s a growing trend of this push-back around the country, Illinois Public Radio reports

“There’s an awful lot of information out there,” [Kathy Saltmarsh, head of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council] says. “There’s been a pretty ongoing and robust national discussion about our overuse of incarceration, a growing awareness that many of those we incarcerate are there because of addiction or mental health issues. And when you’re imprisoned, the likelihood that you have will that addressed is really pretty small.”

That’s because even though the Department of Corrections consumes more than $1.2 billion dollars a year, its budget is stretched thin. State prisons are also crowded — at more than 150 percent of their rated capacity.

Those are among the factors that have driven sentencing changes across the country. That’s given the movement a perhaps surprising ally: conservatives. The Texas-based group Right on Crime has the support of big name Republicans like former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Right on Crime’s Derek Cohen, a criminologist, says this requires a rethink of what prison is for.

“Prison is for the people we’re scared of, not the people we’re mad at,” Cohen says. “In other words, prison is for the people that need to be incapacitated while they receive rehabilitation or while they receive their punishment.”

Cohen says Right on Crime has found success in Republican-led states, and thus the group hasn’t been active in strongly Democratic Illinois. It seems the Republican reputation for being tough on crime gives them cover when it comes to a less politicized sentencing scheme.

“It’s almost a case of: it took Nixon to go to China, (and) it took Texas to say this needs to stop right now,” Cohen says.

That’s a really fascinating take.

[With apologies to IPR for going beyond Fair Use. But it’s an interesting and important story.]

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    “Prison is for the people we’re scared of, not the people we’re mad at”…

    That is a money quote right there. I wish more would think like this.

  2. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    Cohen’s assessment is spot on!

  3. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    Unfortunately, Ron that’s not how most people seem to view prison at all. They’d seemingly do away with it and have vigilante justice instead. Then again, considering the breadth of police misconduct in Illinois, could that be any worse?

  4. - Chris - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    PC: “[most people would] do away with [prison] and have vigilante justice instead.”

    Is that just unclear typing or is that what you really meant? If the former, what did you mean; if the latter, why do you believe that?

  5. - RonOglesby - Now in TX - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 12:50 pm:


    Actually, I think many in society turn to prison for ANYTHING. recommended reading… “Three Felonies A Day” great book. Its really a result of individuals and groups in society lobbying politicians to “DO SOMETHING” about “MY CURRENT GRIPE”.

    sometimes prison makes sense. But there are lots of folks in prison that are not a danger to society. and I dont think most people want vigilantism but instead are shallow thinkers that dont know that every problem is not a Nail and every solution is not the Hammer.

  6. - Judgment Day - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    “Prison is for the people we’re scared of, not the people we’re mad at,” Cohen says. “In other words, prison is for the people that need to be incapacitated while they receive rehabilitation or while they receive their punishment.”

    You want to know who the biggest opponents of this type of approach are going to be?

    **The criminal justice system**

    It’s not going to be most of the right wing conservatives who are going to be fighting this tooth and nail. Moat of them (not all) are (or have) already figuring out that the existing incarceration system is a failure, an unproductive failure at that, and an unbelievably expensive failure to top it all.

    But prosecutors don’t care. They just want to lock people up, and throw then away. I mean, ask yourself a simple question:

    Are George Ryan, Arron Swartz, Christopher Kelly, Jessie Jackson III, or even Rod Blagojevich such violent criminals or such hideous individuals, and a danger to society that they need/needed to sit in prison for an extended period of time? (ok, maybe Rod’s an exception….).

    IMO, this whole incarceration process needs to be re-thought because it’s simply not affordable in the way it’s currently being applied.

  7. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    Good on Right on Crime. For too long in Illinois we’ve talked about our prison system almost exclusively as a state regional jobs program.

    The “Nixon to China” analogy is apt. Nixon had been a leading voice pummeling Democrats for being “soft on Communism” and for “losing China.”

    Dems got pounded severely for being “soft on crime” during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Nixon himself ran on “law and order” in 68.

    Dem politicians like Koch and Clinton got the message and built their careers in part by being “tough on crime.” In 92, Gov. Clinton made a point of allowing the execution to proceed of a severely developmentally disabled man who only ate half the peach cobbler in his last meal because he wanted to finish the rest later.

  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    ===(ok, maybe Rod’s an exception….)===

    Thanks for that.


  9. - John Howard Association - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    Reading about the 13-year old above makes me think about a conversation I recently had with a person who runs a program for young people in Chicago’ Back of the Yards. We talked about the violence that plagues communities like the Back of the Yards and the kids he works with. Let me paraphrase what he said:

    “The kids here, they don’t trust adults, and for good reason, because they know that most of the adults in their lives won’t stand up for them. They’re always looking over their shoulders, afraid who might be coming down the road for them. They have all experienced or witnessed serious violence and are dealing with significant trauma and the mental anguish and effects that comes with it. And so what you have are kids who are really angry with nothing to do and nowhere go—and they have guns.”

    I believe prison has a vital role to play in protecting public safety, but I don’t think prison—particularly longer prison sentences—will do anything to address the kind of despair and rage that leads young people to carry guns and shoot each other. I’m heartened that the General Assembly is beginning to take a comprehensive look at these issues.

  10. - Anon - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    Better late than never for conservatives to finally apprehend that spending on incarceration actually counts as governdment spending. While the state budget has been out-of-balance for more than a decade, conservative legislators from both parties have continued voting for enhanced penalties that IDOC estimates will add tens or hundreds of $millions to the budget.

    I second the recommendation of Three Felonies a Day.

  11. - Modest proposal - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    I didn’t know that LCM took gunshot victims, last I heard they didn’t have the facilities to give them the best possible. Most of the time critically wounded gunshot victims get transported west down 95th street.

  12. - fed up - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 2:18 pm:

    For the most part long prison sentences are not productive. 16-25yo males commit a vast majority of crime and then most age out of crime committing. Realisticly the best anti crime/ anti violence program is a good economy, Quinn still cant figure that out. That being said we are in a period where the poor with no or little education or skills will have very few choices because factory jobs and other decent pay unskilled labor has/is disappearing and the dead end existance leads to crime.

  13. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    But prosecutors don’t care. They just want to lock people up, and throw then away.

    Hey, PC bite me. Who helped kill felony prostitution last year? Who worked with Sen. Raoul this year to allow defendants who pled guilty the ability to go back and check old DNA evidence? Who re-wrote Rep. Davis’ presumptive I bond bill and then helped it to pass? Who defers thousands and thousands of low level drug cases every year giving those defendant’s an option for treatment without a criminal record? Prosecutors do. Your ignorance is appalling.

  14. - the unknown poster - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    Yowie. Don’t hold back Anonymous, tell us what you really think.

  15. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 6:44 pm:

    Mandatory minimums. Why do we need them? Because judges are allowing the really bad ones get away with sentences others think are too light. Why make a law. We have that wonderful system where we can go to that, you know, ballot box and vote them out. Seems to be working OK, why mess with it? That snark is brought to you by the folks who watched while a truly seriously mentally ill Judge was slated and supported by the dominant party and re-elected handily. Some voting systems don’t seem to be working too well, I guess. How long do we wait until the electorate does their job - get educated and cast your vote with knowledge, not with the slate sheet you get from the ward committeeman.

  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 8:46 am:

    hope recently appointed joint legislative committee addresses issues involved in sentencing. practically every other states including lots of red states taking steps to reduce prison population, illinois needs to join in. if not a federal judge will as doc terribly overcrowded and medical care awful. doc staff not problem. need to allow first time non violent be served in communities and pass legislation to permit some of elderly prisoners to be paroled. illinois eliminated parole in 1978 and elder in prison skyrocketing since at a cost of 75 k a year. good lick committee

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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