S141 Gang Bill Presentation Notes by Cliff Dalton
The following notes were used by Cliff Dalton at the public meeting for Gang Bill S141
Paperwork Provided to the subcommittee by Cliff included:
- An exploratory Study on Gangs from Clemson University.
- Fact Sheet from the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention.
- Congressional Research Service Report for Congress 2006
- US Attorney’s bulletin- Understanding Gangs and Gang Mentality: Acquiring Evidence of the Gang Conspiracy.
Criminal Gang Prevention Act- The title is misleading. It lacks any prevention or intervention strategies only suppression.
Criminal Gang- This a very vague definition of what constitutes a gang or gang related behavior. Delinquent acts by juveniles appear inconsistently attributed to membership in a gang.
I believe imprisonment is a greater expense versus prevention and rehabilitation efforts. Moreover in certain situations many will break the law notwithstanding severe criminal penalties, questioning the crime deterrence effects. Also research has shown juveniles who are tried as adults and imprisoned in adult facilities have higher recidivism rates and higher re-arrest rates compared to those sentenced in Juvenile court. These measures could disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority juveniles. (See demographics chart in CRS report)
I don’t believe that putting juveniles in prison and throwing away the key is the best approach. The root causes of gang formation and violence stem from poverty, lack of employment opportunities and alienation from the larger society. Hence the larger numbers of racial and ethnic percentages. Other causes, lack of support from family members, abusive family members, alcohol and drug abuse of parents and the number one item peer pressure.
Define Gangs- Maybe we could enact an anti-gang task force requiring them to work with researchers, law enforcement, judiciary and policy makers to reach a consensus on the term gang.
Collect Data- Maybe develop legislation that would require the standardization of crime statistics reporting thru all law enforcement agencies. To provide better informed policy development.
Develop Community Specific Gang Reduction Approaches- Every community is different so the gangs are different. Urban gangs are more organized whereas rural areas are mostly unorganized.
Decrease Factors that put Juveniles at risk for Membership- Such as after school programs or employment opportunities, which could be emplemented by the particular Community.
Target at Risk Schools- Have law enforcement officers or clergy go in to the schools and discuss the gang problems and consequences of becoming a gang member. These are just a few approaches. Please read the material I gave you.There is a lot of good information there. WE cannot put something like this out there without fully researching all avenues whether it be good or bad.
More Source Material for your continued research:
IIR - Institute for Intergovernmental Research
National Criminal Justice Reference Service