Package Focuses on Gang Violence Prevention, Conflict Resolution Education
Springfield--State Representative Jim Durkin and a group of House Republican legislators today introduced new legislation to help keep our children and our communities safe from violence. Durkin (R-Western Springs) said the measures in the "Protect Our Children" initiative target the greatest threats to our children's safety- gang and school-related violence.
"We cannot sit idle with the catastrophic gun violence occurring in the streets of Chicago on a daily basis. We know the enemy: the street gangs and members of the drug trade. We can no longer tolerate the loss of innocent children and law-abiding citizens. We are taking a harsh but necessary position with these bills to rid our neighborhoods of this criminal element," Durkin said.
- House Bill 3217 increases penalties for gang-related gun offenses. It increases the minimum sentence for possession of a firearm by a street gang member from 3 up to 4 years and makes it a non-probationable offense. The legislation also requires 85% truth in sentencing for many gun offenses by felons and known gang members.
- House Bill 3009 cracks down on gang recruitment in our communities. Illinois' gang recruitment law currently requires prosecutors to prove that the defendant used force or coercion to recruit another person into a gang. This legislation adds two new felony offenses for recruiting adults (Class 4 Felony) or minors (Class 3 Felony) to join gangs that do not require proof of physical force.
"We are proposing harsh but necessary changes to our gang and gun laws," said Durkin. "The onslaught of murders and gang violence in Chicago must stop."
Other measures in the plan improve mental health reporting and school violence prevention:
- House Bill 1925 (Floor Amendment #1) utilizes gun offense fines to enhance mental health reporting. A recent audit conducted by Auditor General Bill Holland found that due to deficiencies in the reporting of individuals with potentially disqualifying mental health conditions, State Police don't always receive information needed to revoke or deny FOID cards. This proposal imposes an additional $50 fine on defendants convicted of certain firearm offenses to fund continuing education for circuit judges and circuit court clerks to improve the reporting of mental health prohibitors to the State Police.
- House Bill 1978 (Floor Amendment #1) improves conflict resolution education in schools. To help prevent school-related violence, this legislation ensures school districts will provide instruction and training in violence prevention and conflict resolution education as part of social-emotional learning standards for all students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. The State Board of Education and local school boards are not required to implement these provisions unless funding is available from private sources, the State, or the federal government.
“The senseless shootings of children continue to plague our streets and homes,” said Durkin. “Kids should not have to worry about walking to and from school. These pieces of legislation will make our state safer and stop the expanding gang violence.”