CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation creating a task force to combat the epidemic of violence impacting today’s youth. As part of the Governor’s agenda to improve public safety across Illinois, the Violence Prevention Task Force will work to develop peaceful and productive alternatives to violence and help coordinate community efforts to ensure bright futures for all Illinois youth.
The governor signed the legislation after hundreds of Chicago youth signed an anti-violence pledge at the Will Bynum Basketball Camp, which took place at Chicago State University.
“Violence is a plague on too many Illinois communities,” Governor Quinn said. “I want to commend all the youth here today who are raising their voices against violence and taking a stand for keeping our communities safe. This task force will provide a fresh perspective and pursue new strategies that can help end the violence epidemic.”
Sponsored by State Representative LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), House Bill 2879 creates the Violence Prevention Task Force. Among its duties, the task force is charged with preventing violence by raising awareness of job opportunities for at-risk youth, assisting religious and community groups and organizations whose mission is to curb violence, and coordinating with mental health providers to assure that they are present in communities that need them.
"If we want to reduce violence, we must have the political will to do more than be tough on crime,” Representative Ford said. “We must also become a more fair and just society and help meet the needs of every member of our community. This task force will work together with the House Committee on Restorative Justice that I chair to help give people hope and the ability to turn their lives around, which will make our neighborhoods safer.”
“Youth violence has devastated our nation as homicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 15 to 29, and the epidemic is particularly rampant in Chicago,” Senator Hunter said. “We must act now because more adolescents are killed in Chicago than any other U.S. city is simply unacceptable. We owe it to our children to do our best to protect them.”
The task force will be comprised of six members, with one appointment made by the President of the Senate, one made by the Minority Leader of the Senate, one by the Speaker of the House and one by the Minority Leader of the House, with the remaining two being appointed by the Governor.
The law is effective immediately.