Up to $5 million of Justice Department funds could go to help communities combat youth violence.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Attorney General Eric Holder discussed Thursday the possibility of making up to $5 million available from the Justice Department as one of a number of ways to help communities such as Chicago combat youth violence.
The Illinois senator wants to amend a pending appropriations measure to give Holder the discretion to set aside money from his department's budget for community-oriented violence prevention efforts. Holder is supportive, the senator said.
Durbin said the meeting in his Capitol office was meant to continue the national conversation about youth violence plaguing Chicago and other communities.
"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," he said. "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."
Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan were in Illinois last week to meet with Chicago officials, parents and students. Their trip was prompted by the ongoing violence and the beating death of a 16-year-old high school student that was captured on a cell phone video.
Durbin said he and Holder discussed working with community-based organizations to reduce crime, gathering statistics on youth violence from across the country, and working on developing anti-gang initiatives.
"Many of those areas with the highest youth violence are areas that are just overrun with these criminal gangs, so working on eliminating those gangs is a step in the right direction," he added.