Repeat criminals could face increased jail time for gun crimes

By Amy Cherry 1:11pm, April 8, 2013 - Updated 3:45pm, April 8, 2013
Attorney General Beau Biden and State Prosecutor Kathleen Jennings discuss the tougher penalties, they'd like to see for repeat offenders.
The Attorney General's office backs legislation that stiffens penalties against repeat offenders.

WDEL's Amy Cherry has the details.

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On the heels of legislation that toughens bail penalties for offenders, now the state is seeking to increase mandatory minimum sentences for criminals convicted of gun crimes.

"The shootings in the City of Wilmington, in Dover, in Laurel are out of control," says State Prosecutor Kathleen Jennings.

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The bipartisan legislation targets felons, who are terrorizing Delaware's communities--those caught again and again with guns.

"These bills are focused on the most dangerous criminals, who have already been convicted of a felon and are prohibited from possessing guns, but possess them anyway," says Attorney General Beau Biden.

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A twice-convicted offender would face a minimum of 10 years behind bars. Right now, these criminals only face five years in prison.

"The bottom line is that there are too many people on the streets of this city, in Wilmington and across this state, carrying weapons to do violent things in our communities," says Biden.

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Those convicted of carrying a concealed guns would face at least one year behind bars. Current law doesn't require jail time for that crime.

Another measure would allow mandatory minimum sentencing requirements to kick in for juveniles convicted of violent crime on the second offense.

Jennings says these measures are about bringing safety back into neighborhoods.

"Innocent people are being killed, and our communities are being destroyed, and people are afraid to leave their houses. This must end," says Jennings.

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The measures, which have support from the Fraternal Order of Police, are being called another tool in the law enforcement toolbox.

They're sponsored by Rep. Larry Mitchell (D-Elsmere) a retired NCCo police officer, Sen. Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna), and Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown).

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