04052017CM0573State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) introduced legislation last week that seeks to find treatment for trauma victims accused of gun offenses rather than imposing harsh sentences on them.

“The trauma caused by violence in many communities often goes untreated and can have a lasting impact on victims, sometimes leading them to commit crimes themselves,” Raoul said. “Diversion programs to treat the underlying trauma will have a much more positive impact on these individuals and their communities than incarceration will.”

The measure creates the Unlawful Possession of Firearms Diversion Program, which recognizes the role of trauma in the crime and provides treatment options. It requires courts to advise people charged with unlawful possession of a firearm about the program if the judge believes the they suffer from trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder. If the person is eligible and elects to participate in the program, he or she will be placed on probation for the duration of the program.

Before being placed in the Diversion Program, the person charged with the crime must undergo an examination by a Department of Human Services licensed program to determine if he or she suffers from trauma or PTSD.

The Diversion Program can continue for a period of time equal to the maximum sentence for the crime or for five years, whichever is less. If someone has no prior criminal record, they are eligible to have their sentence vacated once they complete the program.

SB 592 will be heard by the full Senate later this month.