Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $325,000)
In East St. Louis, IL the homicide rate in 2019 was 137 per 100,000 residents… more than twice the rate of St. Louis, Missouri and more than three times the rate of Detroit, MI. An average of 100 people are shot annually with an average of 14 incidents of shots fired daily. This city of 26,000 people is routinely acknowledged as one of the most dangerous cities in the country and is ripe for utilization of targeted prosecutorial resources to combat pervasive problems of violent crime. The violent crime terrorizing this community and surrounding areas disproportionally affecting black and African Americans both as victims and perpetrators of violent crime.
In 2013, Former US Attorney General Holder congratulated local prosecutors and police for “fighting above your weight.” Since 2013, additional resources have been allocated to law enforcement to police East St. Louis while the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) faced budget cuts. Assistant State’s Attorneys have been tasked each year with doing more with less to protect public safety. Another assistant is necessary to be an effective partner in a new law enforcement initiative in East St. Louis known as, “PSEG”. Office modernization is not in the budget. The SAO is 1) understaffed and 2) unable to maximize efficiency with the staff that is in place due to outdated systems.
This project is carefully designed to address the dual issues of staff and technology. It proposes the creation of one prosecutor position exclusively dedicated to working with state and local law enforcement in East St. Louis. Further, this prosecutor will work with local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, in addition to the United States Attorney’s Office, to identify “hot spots” and track individuals known to law enforcement for their engagement in patterns of violent crime or associating with violent criminal groups. The SAO will undertake an office modernization process that includes the purchase of equipment and software necessary to transition into a paperless file system with 21st century capabilities. The changes will allow for better coordination with law enforcement by freeing up resources and this meaningful change will lead to the reduction of violent crime. Anticipated outcomes include a measurable increase in charges from East St. Louis, an increase in successful prosecutions originating from that locality, a reduction of violent crime in that locality, and a modernized efficient office capable of sustaining progress after grant funding ends.