* From WGEM TV…
A new proposal by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform has been met with multiple opponents.
Right now, any theft valuing over $300 will land you a felony charge in Illinois. An Illinois criminal justice reform group has asked lawmakers to raise that thievery threshold to $2,000, in an attempt to combat prison overcrowding.
Executive Director Amy Looten of the Quincy Chamber of Commerce said on Monday that there are many reasons to oppose it. […]
“This sends a message to potential shoplifters that well you know it’s not that big of a deal.” Looten said. “The punishment’s not going to be that big, and we just think that’s the wrong message to send.” […]
“If you take away the punishment side of it, and you’re just going to slap them on the hand, they’re more likely to come back, and there’s more people that are going to try it for the first time.” [Quincy Menard’s Assistant General Manager Scott Warner] said.
* From the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform report…
Under current law, a theft where the property was not taken from a person is a felony if any of the following conditions are present:
* Theft of goods worth more than $500 is a Class 3 Felony. If the goods are worth $500 or less the defendant is guilty of a Class 4 felony if he has previously been convicted of any type of theft.
* Theft from a school or a place of worship, or theft of government property, is a Class 2 felony if the value of the items taken is more than $500. If the value of the goods taken from these places is worth less than $500, it is a Class 4 felony.
* Retail theft where the value of the items taken is greater than $300 is a Class 3 felony. If the stolen items are worth $300 or less, the defendant is guilty of a Class 4 felony if he has previously been convicted of any type of theft.
Processing non-violent theft offenders puts a significant strain on the prison system. In 2015, for example, there were 2,630 offenders sentenced to IDOC for the Class 3 or Class 4 felonies of retail theft or theft not from a person. Typically these inmates have short and unproductive terms of incarceration; in 2015, nearly half (49 percent) of those who were sentenced to prison for a Class 3 felony theft received the minimum sentence of two years.
Theft of all types is a serious problem, but treating those who steal relatively small amounts (a single laptop or smartphone, for example) the same as those who steal on a large scale seems disproportionate, and does not make the best use of prison resources. Before theft not from a person becomes a Class 3 felony, the value of property taken should be greater than $2,000. Theft of items worth less than $2,000 should be a Class A misdemeanor. Similarly, before retail theft becomes a Class 3 felony, the value of the property taken should be greater than $2,000. Retail theft of property worth less than this amount should be a Class A misdemeanor.
*** UPDATE *** From Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association…
“We can all agree that non-violent offenders, particularly first-time offenders, should not necessarily be sitting in prison. That is why IRMA has proudly been a part of solutions already enacted to address those situations. But the answer is not to diminish the seriousness of retail theft and erode the sales tax base. Any suggestion that retail theft is a victimless crime is simply wrong — $2 billion in losses to business and government has consequences.”