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Shift in Illinois Sentencing Structure

March 18th, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal penaltiesThis firm has reported on criminal justice and sentencing matters multiple times in the past. From mandatory minimums to sentencing tools, it seems the sentencing structure in Illinois is in the process of an overhaul. Media reports provide further evidence of this in its description of the apparent cultural change going on in regards to criminal sentencing in the Illinois General Assembly.

A New Approach

In the past, Illinois lawmakers’ approach to dealing with crime involved imposing harsher penalties for their commission. The thought was that the enhanced penalty would effectively address the problem; however, lawmakers are starting to see that that is not necessarily the case. Despite the idea that harsher penalties for certain crimes often seemed like a good idea, lawmakers are starting to reject that notion, as evidenced by the significant decline in the number of sentencing enhancement bills that they have attempted to pass in recent years.

This may be due in part to the General Assembly’s recent reaction to such proposals. The House committee on criminal law has started to critically examine not only the effectiveness but also the advisability of enhancing prison sentences. This more scrutinized approach has resulted in such bills being more difficult to be passed. Many are surprised at this turn of events as compared to the attitude expressed in years past.

Driving Change

The approach of the House committee is likely indicative of a similar attitude on sentencing enhancements that is prevalent across the nation. The amount of information regarding criminal sentencing and its effects is vast. National concern about the overuse of incarceration has been constant, and has correlated to an increased realization that many prisoners who are incarcerated in this country are in prison as the result of addiction or mental health issues, who are often and most likely not getting the proper treatment while incarcerated. These factors, in addition to state prison budgets that seem generous but are actually spread too thin, are most likely to be the source for the change in approach to criminal sentencing across the country.

Perhaps surprisingly, the new attitude on criminal sentencing seems to have bipartisan support. Conservative and liberal groups alike are speaking out in favor of a new approach, with representatives expressing the opinion that prison is more appropriate for those criminals who need to be incapacitated in order to be punished, or in order to be treated.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Many are saying it is only a matter of time before such a sentencing approach makes its way into Illinois law. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and need expert legal defense, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

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