Circuit Attorney Renews Call for Gun Court
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ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–With seventeen people injured Monday night in seven different shootings, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce is renewing her call for the creation of a “gun court” to standardize the city’s response to gun crimes.
“We cannot continue in the same vein as we are,” Joyce said, “The city has a huge problem with this.”
The proposal for a gun court, or “armed offenders docket,” has been under discussion for about year. Joyce’s office has been in meetings with the police department, judges, the probation and parole division, and criminologists with the University of Missouri St. Louis.
Enabling legislation that would have set up the gun court failed to make it through the Missouri legislature this past session. Now, Joyce is calling on judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit to set up the gun docket on their own.
Sheeps and Goats
As it’s envisioned, the gun court would feature two judges who would divide the sheep from the goats — determining which gun cases such as first-offenders caught possessing a gun deserve a sentence short of prison time, and which ones deserve prison sentences.
“If it can intervene in that young person’s life who’s never been in trouble before, when they’re just starting down that road of carrying a gun and living the gun life, if we can intervene there and turn that person around, that’s going to pay dividends in public safety down the road,” Joyce said.
For the “goats,” Joyce is hoping the gun court of two judges — as opposed to thirty — would hand down sentences that are more uniform, based on data from the UMSL Criminology Department, and in some cases tougher.
“I think they’ll be more consistent. They’ll be more evidence based. And my goal is they’ll be tougher,” she said.
Serious discussions to set up the gun court are expected to get underway in July, after the courts complete a separate project to create an electronic filing system. If all goes well, the gun court could become a reality late this year, or early in 2014.