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 communitiesnot 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 sitesin Los Angeles,
CA; Miami, FL; Milwaukee, WI;
and Richmond, VAare 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
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