CHADDS FORD, PA — As a part of the 2021 state budget process, Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware/Chester) secured $1.5 million in state funding for a pilot project to hire additional prosecutors for the district attorney’s offices in Delaware and Philadelphia counties. These prosecutors would be assigned as special assistant United States attorneys (SAUSAs) to work directly with the U.S. Department of Justice, United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for the sole purpose of federally prosecuting gun crimes in the region under Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).
PSN is a federal program established by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2001 to foster safe neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in violent crime. Prosecution of gun crimes through PSN has proven to be an effective tool in drastically reducing violent crime with a proven 10.5% decrease in gun homicides in cities that utilize PSN capabilities.
“I have served as an assistant United States attorney in both the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of Colorado, where I prosecuted PSN cases in both jurisdictions,” said Williams. “Many people do not know that it is already a federal crime for a prior-convicted felon to possess a firearm or ammunition. Federal prosecution of prior-convicted felons in possession of firearms is an extremely effective tool in fighting gun violence.”
As the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board noted on Aug. 23, 2021: “If you’re looking for ways to quantify the depths of the gun violence crisis in Philadelphia, there may not be many
bleaker statistics than this: There’s only been one day so far this year – Jan. 2 – when not a single
person was shot in city.”
The gun violence situation in Philadelphia has become only bleaker since then. According to the Philadelphia City controller, 841 people have been shot in Philadelphia in 2021 with 374 of those shootings being fatal as of Oct. 13. That is an average of 6.4 shootings every day. Only 17% of these shootings have an associated court case.
Williams sent letters to both to both Philadelphia District Attorney (first name) Krasner and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer to bring the state funding to their attention.
“It is my sincerest hope that the district attorneys will seize this moment of collaboration,” said Williams. “At a time when Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announces that Philadelphia will receive federal assistance from the Department of Justice through the Public Safety Partnership program, when District Attorney Krasner is asking Philadelphia City Council for more funding for police and prosecutors for a backlog of cases, and when all federal agencies in Philadelphia have announced their ‘All Hands on Deck’ initiative to combat violent crime in the city, I hope this funding will be viewed and used as an added tool and partnership in getting violent criminals off our streets and making our communities safer.”
Williams is a former federal prosecutor and former Marine Corps prosecutor, including having been chief prosecutor of the Marine Corps Reserve. He has prosecuted crimes of violence involving narcotics, firearms, prison assaults, terrorism and bank robberies, among a host of others.