Monday, March 8, 2010

31 Years...Worth It?

I don't get shooting a rival gang member just because he's in another gang. That mentality is one that I cannot grasp. I understand shootings that involve money (drug business) or revenge. I can even understand wanting to shoot someone you don't like. Or even cab drivers. They make me angry regularly.

But a stranger? Someone you have never seen before? Someone that's just standing on the wrong corner? Walk in to another gang's turf, pull out a pistol, and just shoot whoever you see. I don't get this.

Proving you're hard on the streets must require acts like this; stupid acts that are not thought through and have dire consequences. One shot from that gun and your free adulthood is gone.

Attempted first degree murder is punished as a Class X felony, or 6-30 years in prison. Keeping in spirit with the strict Illinois firearms laws, extra years get added to the base sentence when guns are used.

If the offender was in possession of a gun during the offense, it's another 15 years. In this scenario it's obvious there was a handgun. Discharge of the firearm gets another 20 years. Discharge the weapon and hit someone with a bullet, and it's an extra 25 years.

It's not up to another 25 years. The judge can't choose a random number between 1 and 25.  It's 25 years...all of them. 

The 15, 20, and 25 year sentence enhancements are added to crimes other than attempt murder, such as armed robbery and aggravated vehicular hijacking.

In this example, assuming a conviction and the State establishes great bodily harm (just getting shot pretty much proves this), the minimum sentence would be 31 years. And since great bodily harm was caused, this is an 85% sentence (meaning real time would be 85% of 31 years), or just over 26 years.

A teenage offender wouldn't get out of prison until his early 40's. Is it worth it? Is proving you're hard worth 26 years of hard time?

In Illinois, the minimum prison sentence for murder is 20 years. So it's possible to do a lot more time for shooting someone in the knee than actually killing them. But the weapon sentencing enhancements apply to murder cases as well. So murder with a handgun carries a minimum of 45 years.

I don't understand why anyone would risk spending most of their adulthood in prison to shoot someone that just happens to be in another gang. I don't get it. From where does the motivation come? Is it hatred? Desperation? Fear? Frustration? Ignorance?

But sadly, I think I know the truth and it's ugly. Respect. Being a hard-ass on the street does earn respect, but from the wrong people. And in the wrong way. I argue that being respected out of fear is inferior to being respected for having integrity.

The comedian Chris Rock said, and correctly so, that a man just paroled gets more respect on the street than a new college graduate.


1 comment:

  1. On an individual level, I agree - it could be called respect, or perhaps fear; the kind of fear that may protect the person from other self-help actions by other underground-market participants. On the level of the person as member of a group, it's about territory, turf, or jurisdiction for that group vs. other groups. Territory equals market share of the illegal drug trade - huge dollars. The solution? Legalize street drugs to destroy the black market, provide a safe supply to addicts, tax, and regulate. Violent crime would drop by over 50%. Billions of dollars would be saved on prisons and consequences of black market violence. The gangs would shrink to a shadow of what they are now (with just gambling and prostitution). The exception should be marijuana, which should be legalized and treated like alcohol is now.


Please feel free to offer comments and opinions. However, if you require legal assistance please call 312-504-4554 to speak with me personally.