The just-concluded fall session in Springfield can boast the legalization of same-sex marriage. They’ve got that, and that’s all they’ve got. The pieces of unfinished business include the “mandatory minimum” gun sentence bill, which black lawmakers say is wrong-headed. Joining them at the Capitol, the Rev. Jesse Jackson calls for comprehensive strategy. “About 10,500 people are in the largest single prison complex in the nation,” Jackson said at a post-session news conference, referring to the Cook County Jail.
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“About two thirds of them are mentally ill. Some of them have been there up to five years on pre-trial detention. Jail has become a homeless shelter; become a jail hotel.” One representative said states that have tried bills similar to the one which did not get a vote are now backing away from them, finding they increase the prison population but do not decrease crime.