Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Act Locally

For close to 50 years in the United States gangs and gang related violence have presented a critical challenge for many communities. There are many reasons why our youth join these gangs. Youth feel the need for protection from the streets, for some kids it's just for enjoyment, but for the majority of kids I've talked to and known it's all about the respect and money issues that plague many inner city youth today. There are so many youth that grow up today in communities where they feel unsafe, peer pressure is very high and the aggressive, violent experiences are an everyday occurrence.

Gun and gang violence cost our justice system billions of dollars each year to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate juveniles in our country, but still the violence and crime remain widespread. States spend roughly 5 to 6 billion each year imprisoning youth at a average cost of 240.00 a day per youth close to 90.000 a year.

We need to revisit and revise our current policies and start investing in what is proven to work. Research has shown that proactive, community based strategies such as mentoring and after school programs such as No Weapon Needed reduce crime more effectively and at a much lower cost then our current approach of waiting for a crime and or violence to occur then react by funneling youth through a punishing minefield of arrest, prosecution and incarceration. Let's build on what works, our local strengths and start funding the programs that dig down deep to the root causes to prevent crime and gun, gang violence.     

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