Gun Crimes Mean Big Prison Time

Friday, August 4th 2006, 10:29 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Police detectives say a number of 18 and 19 year old men are facing 15 to 30 years behind bars, all because they used a gun during their crime. Robberies are down in Tulsa; there were 126 in January and 66 robberies in July.

News on 6 reporter Lori Fullbright says many of the people arrested for crimes over the winter are now going to court and are getting big sentences, even first time offenders.

21 year old Joe Parks robbed a convenience store with a gun. He got some cash and a smoothie. It was his first offense and now, he's going to prison for 15 years. 20 year old Chadwick Bunch also went into a convenience store with a gun. All he got was beer and now, he'll be behind bars for 12 years. Another man, who used a gun during a bank robbery, is looking at around 20 years behind bars.

Young people don't seem to realize that important difference. Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker: "They're obviously not thinking it through. The ones we're chasing are not thinking it through. A lot of time, there's no need to bring a gun into a situation, yet, they're doing that."

Committing any crime is wrong, but, if you run in and steal beer and take off, you're probably going to get a fine and no jail time. You take the same carton of beer and use a gun; you're going away for 12 years at least.

Rondrey Pearson is 18 years old. He did a carjacking with a gun, his first offense and now has a 16-year prison sentence.

State law requires people who commit violent crimes to serve 85 percent of their time. "It's going to be tough to recover. Take and 18 year old kid and put him in prison for 16 years. He's 34 when he gets out. There's a lot of forming that gets done."

Tulsa Police say guns are to easy to get and too many young people think they're cool, a status symbol. From a law enforcement standpoint, big sentences keep criminals off the street, but from a societal standpoint, so many teenagers going to prison for so long, can only mean bad things down the road.

Tulsa Police obviously don't want to see anyone commit a crime, but their preference is to keep guns out of the equation. They can go off and people can die. Even if the person never intended to hurt anyone, it won't matter in court.

Officers want teenagers to realize every choice they make comes with a consequence and choosing a gun has life altering consequences.