Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order Monday declaring gun violence a public health crisis in Illinois and promised $250 million over the course of three years for violence prevention, youth development and trauma-based services.
Emphasizing an effort "to directly reduce and interrupt violence" in neighborhoods, the governor announced the Reimagine Public Safety Initiative at Breakthrough Urban Ministries FamilyPlex in Chicago's East Garfield Park.
Alongside local leaders and those who lost loved ones to gun violence, Pritzker explained he wanted to send a clear message - that Illinois is united in the commitment to end gun violence.
“This work is urgent,” he told those in attendance. “This is about children who are being gunned down among us as it is about so many others.”
Pritzker said the reality is Black and Brown communities are disproportionally affected by gun violence.
"Young black men die from gun violence at a rate 20 times higher than their white counterparts," the governor explained. "This must stop in Chicago, Peoria, East St. Louis, Champaign, Decatur and Rockford in every region of the state and this nation."
The violence prevention approach calls for youth intervention programs that reduce involvement in the criminal justice system, violence prevention services including therapy, housing and job training, along with development programs for children and teens, according to state officials.
Services, funded by Medicad, will be available to address trauma recovery from chronic exposure to firearm violence.
Fifty million dollars in funding has been budgeted for the remainder of the state’s fiscal year 2022, and $100 million for each of the subsequent two fiscal years will be requested, the governor's office stated in a news release.
In addition to the focused approach to combating violence, Pritzker established the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention, an effort to reduce gun violence in communities with the highest rates.
Under the executive order, state agencies will collaborate with the OFVP to address "the systemic causes of firearm violence and to develop trauma-informed and equity-based strategies."
Specifically in Chicago, the OFVP will work in neighborhoods most affected by gun violence. Outside the city, it will form community advisory groups designed to lower firearm injuries and deaths.
"We will do what it takes individually and collectively to address the immediate violence on our streets and invest in the fighting, fighting the underlying causes...that create too much despair, too much addiction, too little mental health treatment, and too few opportunities," Pritzker said.