The $1.1 million in federal funds
administered by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
is in addition to $2 million in state funds already designated this
year for the project, which is oriented toward grass-roots action.
The project seeks to stop shootings through the direct intervention
of outreach workers in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence and by
changing community attitudes toward violence.
CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago
Project for Violence Prevention, has been using outreach workers,
clergy and other community leaders to combat gang violence in some
of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods since 2000. This year's
funding is allowing the project to expand to 11 neighborhoods in
Chicago, as well as sites in East St. Louis, Rockford, Aurora and
"Crime and violence in our communities
is not just a problem for law enforcement," Blagojevich said. "We
need to change attitudes and behaviors regarding violence and
demonstrate that it is not acceptable in our society. We need to
provide hope and opportunities for our children growing up in
neighborhoods that simply are not safe. And we need to do this
"CeaseFire, through its neighborhood
coalitions and collaboration with law enforcement, offers such an
opportunity, and I am pleased to support the expansion of CeaseFire
in Illinois," the governor said.
CeaseFire is unique among crime
prevention strategies in the way that it takes a public health
approach to stopping firearm violence. It does this by mobilizing
all elements of the community to drive home the message that
violence is not acceptable and that there are always alternatives to
More than 20 neighborhood organizations
work directly with CeaseFire to reach out to high-risk youths and
gang members to quell the violence. Among these groups are TARGET
Area Development Corp. in the Auburn Gresham community on Chicago's
South Side, the Alliance of Logan Square Organizations in Chicago,
ACORN in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood and Vision of Restoration
CeaseFire now has more than 60
community outreach workers directly intervening and providing
alternatives to gang violence in seven neighborhoods. Other sites
that do not yet have outreach workers on the streets are organizing
community leaders, raising public awareness of the anti-shooting
initiative and recruiting workers who will reach out to give youths
an alternative to gangs and violence.
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Hundreds of high-risk youths are being
helped by the outreach workers, community workers and clergy
associated with CeaseFire. In addition to intervening in conflicts,
these workers offer counseling to jobless youths and assist with
educational and employment opportunities.
In the core Chicago police beats where
CeaseFire is operating with outreach workers, there has been an
average reduction in shootings of 44 percent since implementation.
For the first four months of 2004, shootings in CeaseFire areas were
down nearly 30 percent compared with the same period a year ago,
according to preliminary Chicago Police Department data.
The funding from the Illinois Criminal
Justice Information Authority is in addition to $1.5 million
designated earlier this year for the project from the Illinois State
Police and $500,000 from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
These funds are helping expand the project to new communities in
Chicago, East St. Louis, Rockford, Aurora and Maywood.
CeaseFire began in West Garfield Park
in 2000, where a 67 percent drop in shootings was achieved in the
first year of the project. CeaseFire now has outreach workers
actively intervening and preventing shootings in Southwest Chicago,
West Humboldt Park, Auburn Gresham, Logan Square, Rogers Park and
Maywood. The project is in the early stages of development in
Rockford, East St. Louis, Aurora and the Chicago neighborhoods of
Belmont-Cragin, Brighton Park, East Garfield Park, Englewood and
"Englewood has been suffering for a
long time, and the community has been waiting a long time for help
in reducing the violence," said Robin Hood, a community organizer
with ACORN. "Now we are starting to see a difference. We already
know of shootings being prevented, and CeaseFire is the reason."
cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year in medical
and criminal justice expenses. It has been estimated that an
investment of $5 million in a violence prevention outreach program
like CeaseFire can result in savings to the state of between $100
million and $150 million.
[News release from the