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Community Justice

[Click here to read Anita Alvarez's Community Justice Letter to the public.]

As part of her campaign last year, Anita Alvarez promised to open up prosecution offices in the community to strengthen the bond between the Office and the citizens living in Cook County neighborhoods. In May, she began to fulfill that promise when she opened the first Community Justice Center, at 5333 N. Western.

State’s Attorney Alvarez continued to act on that promise with the opening of the South Side Community Prosecution Center at 9059 S. Cottage Grove Ave. in August of 2009.

“Given recent budget pressures, I am pleased we have been able to open up our second Community Justice Center,” Alvarez said, adding that she hopes to open up other community-based locations throughout the county.

The State’s Attorney’s Office had a community prosecutions program several years ago, but it was eliminated due to Cook County budget cuts.  Community prosecution has a three-tiered approach: prosecution, problem-solving, and prevention.

“Traditionally, prosecutors come on the scene in a community only after a crime has occurred and we want to change that,” Alvarez said.  “The opening of this office signals the commitment of the State’s Attorney’s Office to work closer with police, community groups and residents to play an active role in preventing crime in our neighborhoods before it occurs.”

Assistant State’s Attorneys who prosecute criminal cases will be assigned to the Community Justice Center and they will work closely on the prosecution and prevention of local crime with police districts, community groups, schools, businesses and area residents.   Crime victims can utilize the resources of the center to access current court information and to obtain the additional services of the State’s Attorney’s victim witness unit.

In addition, the State’s Attorney’s Office will coordinate informational seminars and host community crime prevention meetings at the location on topics such as identity theft, mortgage fraud, gangs, and guns.

“These offices show our commitment to provide a location in our neighborhoods where our attorneys and other staff can listen, solve problems and connect with the people we serve.”

Misdemeanor ASAs handle cases from the time they are charged through to the disposition of the case in order to be able to respond to the concerns of the communities where they work. Felony ASAs in the Community Justice Centers work with the police early on, through charging, and then once a case is assigned to a courtroom, they handle the case in partnership with the courtroom prosecutors. Prosecutors in these offices will also attend beat meetings in the police districts and visit local businesses to learn the concerns raised by community members.

The South Side office will be under the supervision of veteran Assistant State’s Attorney Kathleen Bankhead.

Informational Brochure - Community Justice Centers

[Click here to read Anita Alvarez's Community Justice Letter to the public.]