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Grants aren’t the solution on sex crime prosecutions

It’s great that St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly recognizes the need to improve his office’s prosecution of sex crimes, but the improvements should happen whether or not his office gets more resources.

Recently we reported that only about 30 percent of sex crimes got prosecuted in Southern Illinois during a nine-year period.

When Kelly outlined his plan last week to improve prosecution rates, one of the key items was obtaining a grant to pay for two assistant state’s attorneys trained in sex-crime investigations. Those prosecutors would be on-call to respond exclusively to rapes and felony abuse cases.

The trouble with grants is that they provide funding for a limited period. What happens when the grant money runs out? Or what if the county doesn’t get a grant in the first place?

Kelly’s other changes are focused on making the most efficient and effective use of the staff he has. He wants to establish a protocol for handling sex crimes – something that already happens for other violent crimes – and require monthly crime reports from police departments. That’s the kind of strategic thinking that can produce major changes, and they don’t have to cost taxpayers another dime.