Over this same period, murders in Chicago have fallen 38.6% from a high of 761 in 1997 to 467 in 2006. While this decline is significant, the murder rate in Chicago remains high. In spring of 2008, Chicago encountered an eruption of gun and gang violence that threatens to spike these rates. The Chicago Police Department reports that the first half of 2008 has experienced an 18% increase in homicides compared to the same time period from 2007. Not unexpectedly, 80% of these murders in 2008 involved firearms. In cases where the motive was known, 48% were gang-related.
In the face of such challenges, PSN Chicago is committed to excellence in all five elements of the PSN strategy. The cornerstone of the Northern District of Illinois' local program is that every state defendant charged with a gun related offense will be reviewed for possible federal prosecution. PSN couples these enforcement efforts with direct outreach to formerly incarcerated individuals through our Parole and Probation forums to warn them of the severe consequences of committing a gun crime. These forums also offer PSN staff, prosecutors and local law enforcement the opportunity to provide much needed resources to recent parolees and create networks of people outside of the judicial and law enforcement systems who are committed to making a difference in their neighborhoods.
Since its inception, the strategy of the Northern District of Illinois Attorney’s Office has been to concentrate all of its resources in the Chicago Police Districts with the highest incidence of gun crime. Beginning in two districts and growing to six in 2007, PSN funding has supported a core group of programs designed to provide targeted resources for law enforcement, prosecution, research, media and prisoner re-entry. The PSN steering committee meets monthly to foster greater communication around developing our comprehensive strategy.
PSN Chicago is a partnership with these organizations, researchers, and institutions: