Tribune Assumption Laden OpEd

Despite all the evidence to the contrary on their lack of effectiveness the Chicago Tribune continues its drum beat of support increasing the length of gun laws in Illinois. The editorial itself is authored in such a matter that it makes you think that stiffening the length of the sentences has a proven track record of reducing violence.

You would never guess that later in the editorial that wrote this:

“The value of harsher sentencing as a tool of prevention is debatable: Hoodlums typically don’t consult the sentencing guidelines before committing crimes”

That’s right folks they completely undermine their argument in two lines. There is very little evidence to support stronger sentences work as a deterrent to serious violent crimes. Those that are about to rape, murder or commit or serious violent crime do not sit and do a cost benefit analysis to see if they should commit the crime. So, given this reality it is hard to see how in the world deterrence as a concept is going to have any impact. Even given this reality the Tribune attempts to pass off a statement as if it is common knowledge that longer sentences reduce crime and violence.

The next line in the editorial is another whopper of an unproven assumption:

“But we also know gang members don’t fear prison now because punishments are too lenient.”

Proof? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? (the sound of crickets in the background)

So since they provide no proof the only assumption is the Tribune has decided to take the word of cops and prosecutors that “gang members” don’t fear prison. What is there proof? Don’t’ ask because they certainly don’t have any. Also, by the way cops and prosecutors have a very obvious incentive to further de-humanize the both the perpetrators and victims of urban violence.

The answers to urban street violence are complex and have no single solution. Of course, when everyone states this they never mention actual dealing head on with poverty. They would rather promote unproven but ideologically attractive solution that will result in only worsening the problem rather than being part of solutions.

Author: Tracy SiskaTracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.
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