Durbin Meets with Attorney General to Discuss Chicago Youth Violence

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the federal, state and local effort to combat youth violence in Chicago. Holder briefed Durbin on the outcome of last week’s meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. They also discussed the role the federal government can play in assisting the state and local effort including: increasing funding for community-based violence prevention programs and the COPS program; improving data collection on youth violence; and expanding the use of the existing electronic crime gun tracing program.


“Today’s meeting continued the national conversation about the youth violence epidemic that is plaguing Chicago and communities across our nation,” said Durbin. “While federal funding and legislation is not enough to repair the damage done to so many Chicago families, it will provide the resources needed to put an end to the violence and help communities rebuild. I am committed to doing everything I can to see that Illinois has all available resources to help local communities provide a safe environment for our children.”


During the meeting, Durbin also discussed his legislation to provide funding for youth violence prevention efforts with the Attorney General. This funding, introduced as an amendment to the Commerce Justice and Science spending bill, would give Holder the 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.


Last week, Durbin met with Hyde Park Academy students to hear their experiences. He also met with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools Ron Huberman regarding the CPS youth violence prevention plan.


At Durbin’s request, the Justice Department last year 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 law enforcement officers in Chicago and Cook County.