By Sharon Stevens
ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. (KSDK) - The war on heroin has a new enemy. The St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office is joining the Illinois State Crime Commission to reduce juvenile heroin use and overdoses. Rewards are now being offered for those who help authorities.
The crime commission is offering a $1,000 reward because it says too many children are using and dying from heroin.
Jennifer Herlin began using drugs including Vicodin, marijuana, crack and heroin in her early teens. Her mother, Chris Keel, was determined to help her daughter by showing tough love.
"Every time I had the opportunity to get her arrested, I would," she said. "I tried tough love; kicked her out of the house. She stole from us. She was stealing from other people."
Jennifer Herlin would get clean, but would fall back into old habits. She never made it past age 20. She died of an overdose last fall.
Keel supports the new heroin bounty program that state's attorney Brendan Kelly is leading in the county. The program offers a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone providing heroin to kids in St. Clair County.
"We're not only in this heroin epidemic. It's affected Chicago, St. Louis, other areas of the metro east," Kelly said. "We all have to see what is working and try anything because too many kids are dying of heroin overdoses."
Brendan Kelly is asking anyone with tips regarding heroin being provided to juveniles in St. Clair County to call either 800-640-DIME or 618-346-3750.