The Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s Community Justice Letter to the Public:
“Dear Web Visitor,
As a candidate for Cook County State’s Attorney last year, I promised I would open community justice offices to ensure that our citizens understand the critical role that prosecutors play in the criminal justice system and throughout our communities.
I am very pleased to report that we have now opened two Community Justice Center locations on the city’s North and South sides, and we are continuing our efforts to reach other Cook County communities as well.
In these offices, our staff will work closely on the prosecution and prevention of local crime along with our local police districts, community groups, schools, businesses and area residents.
With the opening of these offices we hope to repair the trust that has been lost in recent years between law enforcement and the citizens we serve.
Cook County State’s Attorney”
In her 2008 Electoral Campaign, the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez made a promise of establishing prosecution offices, setting a goal to create a stronger bond between the public and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez began fulfilling such promises in May of 2008 and started the founding of Community Prosecution Centers across the state with the first Community Justice Center at 5333 N. Western Avenue, Chicago. Over a year later, the second Community Justice Center was built in the South Side at 9059 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago in August of 2009. Additionally, the third Community Prosecution Center was built in the West Side at 4 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park.
Aligned to her prior commitment, States Attorney Anita Alvarez said, “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.”
Assistant State’s Attorneys who are delegated to the Community Justice Centers are public servers whose prosecution areas focus on criminal convictions. These prosecutors are assigned to the prosecution centers with a mission to prosecute and prevent local crime with the help of law enforcers, community groups, residents, and schools.
“Traditionally, prosecutors come on the scene in a community only after a crime has occurred and we want to change that,” State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said. “The opening of this office signals the commitment of the State’s Attorney’s Office to work closely with police, community groups and residents to play an active role in preventing crime in our neighbourhoods before it occurs.”
With the goal that has been set, Assistant States Attorneys are now involved through all the steps of the investigation and conviction processes. On the one hand, assistant states attorneys handling misdemeanor cases work on the case from step one after having the case charged, and all through the disposition of the case. On the other hand, assistant states attorneys working on felony cases begin their service and joins in the investigations of the police, as well as the processing of charges for the conviction involved in the case. This method allows immediate response to concerns raised by community members.
Despite numerous efforts on building initiatives, including the Community Prosecutions Program that was established by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office several years ago, budget cuts resulted in limited undertakings.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez asserts, “given recent budget pressures, I am pleased we have been able to open up our second Community Justice Center.” She further adds her hopes of founding other community-based locations throughout the county.
The Community Prosecution Programs has three phases, involving prosecution, problem-solving, and prevention. The Community Justice Center also provides crime victims resources and assistance, including providing current court information, among other services the State’s Attorney’s Office – Victim-Witness Assistance Unit provides. Additionally, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office coordinates information seminars, as well as community crime prevention meetings on important topics such as gang violence, firearms, mortgage fraud, and identity theft.
Veteran Assistant State’s Attorney Kathleen Bankhead is responsible for supervising the South Side Community Justice Center.
Updated: August 11, 2020