Shootings Increase After CeaseFire’s Budget Cut

The news:

This summer marks the oneyear anniversary of a veto from Gov. Rod Blagojevich that cut more than $6 million of state funding for CeaseFire, a community outreach and violence prevention initiative. The veto meant that state funding for 11 out of 15 Chicago communities where CeaseFire had been operating at least since October 2006 was completely cut off by the end of August 2007.

Behind the news:

A Chicago Reporter analysis of crime statistics provided by CeaseFire shows that the total number of shootings spiked during seven months following the funding cut in the 11 communities where CeaseFire ended its operation, compared with the same period the year before.

Between September 2007 and March 2008, 130 shootings occurred in the 11 communities. During the same period the year before, there were 100 shootings. Two of the communities are located on the city’s North Side, while four are on the South Side. The remaining five are on the West Side.

The South Side’s Roseland community, where CeaseFire began operating in October 2006, has seen the biggest increase in the number of shootings, from 15 between September 2006 and March 2007 to 22 during the same period one year later.

“Man, you know how many people got killed down here?” asked Dale Daniels, 18, as he considered how CeaseFire’s budget cut affected Roseland. “I don’t even feel safe outside. To take the bus, I gotta get a ride out [of the community] first.”

In January, a bill that would appropriate $12.5 million–”twice CeaseFire’s original funding–”passed in the Illinois House of Representatives, but it died in a Senate committee in May as its chief sponsor, state Sen. Don Harmon, expected. The assembly’s full budget, which includes $6.25 million for CeaseFire, was awaiting the governor’s signature at press time.

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