Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) called a gang plan advanced by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) an “upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”
Rush was responding to comments by Kirk after Kirk and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) attended a meeting on Chicago’s gang problem. Over 500 people were murdered in 2012 in Chicago. Kirk’s plan would spend $30 million to stop gang violence and target a Chicago gang called the Gangster Disciples.
Mr. Rush made the comments during an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. In a written statement released after the interview, Rush said Sen. Kirk’s plan: “…does not include the option to create jobs, provide affordable and safe housing, quality health care and improve schools in urban areas, BUT certainly a plan to incarcerate 18,000 black men is elitist. Why is incarceration the sole option instead of rehabilitation which is proven to work and not locking young men up…”
It’s unknown whether Senators Kirk or Durbin have supported the Youth PROMISE Act in the Senate. That comprehensive violence prevention legislation has been offered on the House side by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) and in 2010 had the support of 235 co-sponsors including 19 Republicans. The legislation was recently endorsed by a large number of civil rights leaders and entertainers in a letter to President Obama in April.
On May 2, Sen. Kirk told Fox 32 in Chicago that “My top priority is to arrest the Gangster Disciple gang, which is 18,000 people. I would like to have a mass pickup of them and put them all in the Thomson Correctional Facility.”
“They usually say, when you talk about 18,000 arrests, ‘Oh! That’s a lot… You know, I’ve talked with federal judges about how we could handle hundreds of defendants, especially with senior Judge Holderman,” Kirk added.
Sen. Durbin has pushed for the opening of Thompson Correction Center — a supermax prison that was supposed to house gitmo detainees but is now empty. The facility was to create 1,100 jobs. In Oct 2012, Durbin announced that the Obama administration and Federal Bureau of Prisons was buying Thomson Correctional Center from Illinois for $165 million. That proposal would lead to the opening of the prison by 2014.