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September/October 2003  
Volume II Number 5  
In this Issue
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New Program Supports Community Anti-Gang Efforts

We must focus on the immediate priority of safeguarding the public, while at the same time attacking the underlying causes that attract young people to gangs in the first place. We must work to offer our youth a viable alternative to gangs by providing opportunities for success as productive citizens, and we must also prepare those young people who have been held in confinement to return to their communities—not to their gangs.

—Attorney General John Ashcroft

Youth gangs are a serious problem throughout the nation, threatening public safety and damaging young lives not only in large urban areas but also in many smaller cities and rural areas. These gangs can be the most visible cause and the most visible result of extreme social and economic distress in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has long supported efforts to address the problem of youth gangs. In FY 2004, gang reduction is one of OJJDP’s priorities.

The Gang Reduction Program (GRP), already underway in four pilot sites, has a clear goal: reducing youth gang crime and violence in targeted neighborhoods by helping communities take an integrated approach to applying proven practices in primary prevention, secondary prevention, intervention, suppression, and reentry (see “A Five-Pronged Approach to Gang Reduction”).

The GRP plan has several key concepts:

Identify needs at the individual, family, and community level and address those needs with a coordinated, comprehensive response.
Inventory human and financial resources in the community and create plans to fill gaps and leverage existing resources to support effective gang reduction strategies.
Apply the best research-based programs across appropriate age ranges, risk categories, and agency boundaries.
Encourage coordination and integration in two directions: vertically (federal, state, and local) and horizontally (across communities and program types).

The four pilot sites—in Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Milwaukee, WI; and Richmond, VA—are small areas (a few square miles or a single ZIP code) characterized not only by high levels of crime and gang activity but also by strong indicators of citizen involvement and significant existing program investment. OJJDP will support GRP development through cooperative agreements with local lead agencies and will also sponsor training, technical assistance, and evaluation activities. OJJDP and its federal partners will work together to identify and coordinate federal resources that respond to the needs of GRP sites. The federal partners will develop an inventory of existing resources and a plan to add programs where needed.

  A Five-Pronged Approach to Gang Reduction
Primary prevention targets the entire population in high-crime, high-risk communities. The key component is a one-stop resource center that makes services accessible and visible to members of the community. Services include prenatal and infant care, afterschool activities, truancy and dropout prevention, and job programs.
Secondary prevention identifies young children (ages 7–14) at high risk and, drawing on the resources of schools, community-based organizations, and faith-based groups, intervenes with appropriate services before early problem behaviors turn into serious delinquency and gang involvement.
Intervention targets active gang members, close associates, and gang members returning from confinement and involves aggressive outreach and recruitment activity. Support services for gang-involved youth and their families help youth make positive choices.
Suppression focuses on identifying the most dangerous and influential gang members and removing them from the community.
Reentry targets serious offenders who are returning to the community after confinement and provides appropriate services and monitoring. Of particular interest are “displaced” gang members who may cause conflict by attempting to reassert their former gang roles.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

News @ a Glance is OJJDP’s bimonthly newsletter, bringing you up-to-date notices of agency activities, recent publications, funding opportunities, and upcoming events—with an emphasis on providing quick access to online sources for publications and other resources. Let us know what types of features would be most useful to you (e-mail

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