You can have all the great ideas in the world, but without the money to make it happen, they're just that, ideas. That's the thinking behind an announcement Monday from the Department of Justice: they want to help Chicago organizations in the fight against escalating gang violence in the area, and they're putting some money behind that effort.
We all know the numbers are staggering -- sometimes the battle seems insurmountable. There is often said to be a never-ending cycle of gang crime, punishment and repeat offenses.
So, Monday, the Justice Department said Chicago and Northern Illinois will be given $2 million in grants to be administered by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago.
The money will go toward prevention of gang crime, prosecution of the gang criminals and also to community groups working to try and give would-be gang-bangers something better to do. It's called the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative.
"It's a tragedy when a 4-year-old girl gets shot on the steps of a church. It is a tragedy, frankly, when a 19-year-old gets sentenced to 40 years in prison for a homicide case or narcotics case, as opposed to leading a productive life as a member of the community," said Mark Filip, deputy attorney general
"If you scare people into thinking that you pick up a gun, you go to federal prison for a long time. If you steer them into saying, 'I'm not going to do that,' they have to do something else and get jobs training or detox or get going on a life. You have to have a carrot to go along with the stick," said Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney.
Chicago is the 11th U.S. city to benefit from this funding initiative.
The grants will go to groups ranging from law enforcement agencies to church groups working in various local communities -- all of which are trying to stem the tide of gang violence through various means.
By the way, if the name Mark Filip sounds familiar to you, it may be because he was formerly a federal judge here in Chicago and now he's the number two man in the u-s justice department.
He is keenly aware of the epidemic of gang crime here in this area and he says he is hopeful that this Multi-layered approach to the problem will make a real difference.
Some Chicago community groups are saying they'll take all the assistance they can get.