Durbin Announces Legislation to Combat School Violence at Community Level

CHICAGO, IL–(ENEWSPF)–October 9, 2009.  Chicago students who struggle with violence in their communities would benefit if an amendment U.S. Senator Dick Durbin introduced yesterday to provide funding for youth violence prevention efforts is signed into law.  This funding, introduced as an amendment to the Commerce Justice and Science spending bill, would give the U.S. Attorney General discretion to take up to $5 million from an existing grant program in the DOJ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and award that $5 million in grants to community-based, street-level violence prevention programs.

Durbin was joined at the announcement by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools Ron Huberman.  Immediately preceding the news conference, Durbin was briefed by Huberman regarding the CPS youth violence prevention plan, and met privately with a handful of Hyde Park Academy students to hear directly from them about their experiences.

“We lose a classroom’s worth of school children each year to violence in Chicago, and hundreds more are injured each year. This youth violence is devastating to families, communities and schools,” said Durbin. “I applaud this week’s efforts by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to begin a national conversation in the interest of making our communities’ streets safer for everyone.

“Money and government alone will not solve the problem of youth violence, but officials at the local, state and federal level are committed to taking bold actions to address this challenge,” said Durbin, “The problem of youth violence is not new.  But it is also not inevitable.    I intend to see that Illinois gets its fair share of available resources to help our local communities provide a safer, more stable environment for children.”

Last year, at Durbin’s request, the Justice Department included Chicago in its Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, providing $2 million in additional federal funding for law enforcement and community anti-gang programs. Through his support of such programs as COPS and Byrne-JAG that provide federal law enforcement assistance to local law enforcement agencies, Durbin has promoted dramatic increases in law enforcement funding for Illinois. In the first seven months of 2009, the city saw an 11% drop in homicides and a 9% dip in all crimes, due    in large part to the dedicated efforts by the brave law enforcement officers in Chicago and Cook County.