WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) Friday applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee’s bipartisan approval of the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which includes Kirk-driven priorities to curb and prevent gang violence and to protect children from sex trafficking.
The Kirk priorities include $16.5 million to fight gangs of national significance, including funding for the new anti-gang investigative units of the U.S. Marshals, as well as funding for gun crime reduction and youth violence prevention education programs.
“Illinois has one of the highest rates of gangs per capita in the nation,” Kirk said. “Fighting gangs of national significance and ensuring that our cities remain safe continues to be a top priority of mine.”
The bill also provides tools for law enforcement to protect minors from sex trafficking, including a human trafficking coordinator in each U.S. Attorney’s office to work with federal and local law enforcement. The Department of Justice also is required to report on the number of incidences and successful prosecutions of sex trafficking of minors resulting from online classified advertisements.
The bill increases funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the COPS account, which will assist local law enforcement.
The fiscal year 2015 CJS Appropriations Bill allocates $51.2 billion in discretionary funds for the Commerce and Justice Departments, as well as Science agencies across the country, nearly $400 million less than last year’s levels. The CJS bill passed the full Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously by a vote of 30-0.
Measures to target gangs of national significance include:
U.S. Marshals Anti-Gang Units
- The bill directs the U.S. Marshals Service to dedicate “no less than $5 million to operate anti-gang investigative units.”
- These units were created with the funds that Senator Kirk championed in FY14.
- The units target and remove violent fugitive gang members while seizing narcotics, cash and firearms.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
- The bill provides $8.5 million for “Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction” through the Project Safe Neighborhoods program.
- The U.S. attorney in each judicial district leads a unified approach, with the cooperation of local, state and federal agencies, to support prosecution efforts, intervention and prevention initiatives.
Gang and Youth Violence Education, Prevention and Intervention
- The bill provides $3 million for the administration of these grant programs.