Illinois Democrats try to sell anti-crime programs before end of session, midterms loom
Illinois Democrats introduced anti-crime measures on Friday under pressure from rising violence and Republican criticism, promising more in the final days of the Legislature’s spring session.
By JOHN O’CONNOR
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Democrats in Illinois introduced anti-crime measures on Friday under pressure from rising violence and Republican criticism, promising more in the final days of the Legislature’s spring session.
Four pieces of legislation include the creation of social service networks for victims of crime, the expansion of anonymous crime reporting hotlines, a witness protection program and an increase of $185 million in funding for programs for young children, teen parents, child care, after-school activities, and need-based college scholarships before the scheduled April 8 deferment deadline.
Violent crime has increased across the country. Democrats have also been battered by criticism over police and bail review measures they passed early last year in response to a series of police-involved shootings. Deputy House Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth of Peoria noted that police accountability remains critical while understanding that violent crime has increased because of the “disinvestment that is happening in many of our communities.” “.
“We want to meet those needs where they are, but we’re also clear there’s a need for accountability,” Gordon-Booth said. “So we want to provide law enforcement tools that are much more like a scalpel than an axe.”
Gordon-Booth’s legislation would create pilot programs in East St. Louis, Peoria, Springfield and Waukegan to connect survivors of crime to the social services they need, including mental health, addiction treatment and housing .
East St. Louis lacks mental health treatment and has no trauma center, let alone a hospital, said Gloria Hicks, whose brother was killed and who is St. Louis’ coordinator for crime survivors. for security and justice. “This bill will bring us one step closer to protecting the most vulnerable when we need it most. »
Other measures in the package include Chicago Sen. Robert Peters’ plan to create a crime reduction task force to review the latest research, programs that work, and hear expert testimony before flagging solutions. suggested by March 2024. It would also create anonymous cash – an advice line similar to Crime Stoppers, which Peters says is not available everywhere, and a funding stream for a rebuilt crime witness protection program violent.
“Our job here is to be smart about crime,” Peters said. “What we do know is that we are in the middle of a crisis and we have to respond to it.”
Peters is proposing $20 million for witness protection and $1 million for a hotline. Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker proposed $20 million for witness protection in his budget proposal.
Chicago Sen. Celina Villanueva has proposed increasing funding by $185 million, or 4.6%, for programs to help children and teens facing poverty, mental health or disabilities. other problems that can lead to crime.
“Programs that support these initiatives help reduce crime and tackle inequity and inequality at its source,” Villanueva said.
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