Community leaders to presidential candidates: Make Chicago a priority

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of minority community leaders from 15 Chicago neighborhoods are calling on the presidential candidates to make the city and its problems with crime and violence a priority in their first 100 days in office.

Leaders noted that the election is about three weeks away, and they want both candidates to commit to making issues of violence and crime in Chicago a top priority in their first 100 days.

"It's very startling to hear about the trillions of dollars spent over the years on incarceration, and know that that has not solved the issue," said Pastor Ron Taylor of United Congress.

Many of the religious and community leaders in the group have been talking about the prison system for years, maintaining that simply locking people up does little to solve the crime problems.

These leaders believe a lack of jobs and resources leads to crime, and putting people in prison leads to a vicious cycles. The notion is not a new concept, but a new study released Monday puts a dollar amount on it: $3.4 trillion nationally in the last 30 years.

In Illinois alone, they said the figure is $83 billion. They also said it is time for a new approach.

"There's been a tremendous amount of research to show what's effective, and what's effective is having targeted early intervention programs with high risk people," said Julie Biehl, Children and Family Justice Center.

The community leaders said state money should be diverted from incarceration and reallocated into job training and education programs to break the cycle of violence and imprisonment.
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