Today, a New York Times Editorial entitled A Job or a Gang? urges the federal government to direct more money to proven programs that keep young people in school and out of gangs, instead of relying on police dragnets that haul large numbers of nonviolent young people off to jail.
The editorial echoes the recommendations of an updated
report on youth violence and gang activity in our city, Old Problem, New Eyes, which I
released just last month. My report encourages the city to close the
under-capacity and isolated
In exchange for the substantial budget cuts to juvenile
justice proposed by Governor Paterson, the city will be given greater
discretion over how it spends funds from
The report was the result of a series of round table discussions I hosted with youth in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Listening to young people, many of them gang members themselves, we found out that gang affiliation often begins in juvenile detention and that there is a desire for the programs recommended in my report and the Times editorial.
It is clear from our report, as well as today’s editorial, that we need to review policing strategies in neighborhoods with gang activity and identify additional opportunities to engage our young people, their families, neighbors, churches, and schools in efforts to ensure our communities are safe and productive.