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Lawmaker Wants To Eliminate Prison Time For Some Thieves


An Illinois state legislator is pushing a law that could help bring down the population in Illinois’ crowded prison system.

Representative Michael Zalewski wants a change in the law so that thieves wouldn’t face prison time unless they stole at least five hundred dollars of merchandise from a store. Right now the level is $300.

"The idea is, people would find themselves in misdemeanor court more than felony court in some of these offenses which would reduce the population in the Illinois Department of Corrections," Zalewski said.

He says thieves would also have to repay the value of whatever they steal or they would be facing prison time. But Zalewski isn’t sure how much his proposed law would reduce the prison population in Illinois. His bill is just one in a package that would be quote, “smart on crime” as he seeks to also be tough on crime.

Zalewski is the sponsor of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s bill to impose mandatory 3-year minimum sentences on people caught with illegal guns.Despite that being a legislative priority for the mayor, the bill failed to get the needed votes this past year but Zalewski says he intends to try again.