Friday, January 27, 2012

Breaking the criminal cycle

According to the Violence Policy Center, Washington state is tied for 4th place with states for the most drive-by shootings. Just last week, a multi-agency sweep in Eastern Washington resulted in 25 gang-related arrests. With gang activity an ever-increasing problem, how do we help at-risk youth avoid a life of violence and criminal activity?

Rep. Connie Ladenburg has found a way to break the criminal cycle before it breaks our young people – by encouraging the establishment of juvenile-gang courts. Her legislation calls for "a strategic and collaborative approach" in putting an end to juvenile gangs.

"Gang court is a tool for rescuing kids from a nightmare," Ladenburg emphasized.

Ladenburg's House Bill 2535 received a public hearing in the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee Tuesday afternoon. To watch the hearing on TVW, click here.
"Juvenile-gang activities in cities and communities of all sizes are a threat to public safety, as well as being a terrible, dangerous menace for so many children themselves."
Another promising measure is Rep. Luis Moscoso’s House Bill 2432, which would promote local intervention and prevention programs to reduce gang violence through the creation of the Criminal Street Gang Prevention and Intervention Grant Program Account.

“This problem will not go away on its own.  We need to start putting effort, money and the collective resources of communities and local law enforcement into strategies that actually work,” Moscoso said. “Let’s focus on preventing our kids from getting into violent gang activity in the first place by creating and increasing opportunities available to youth to keep them off the streets.”

Moscoso’s bill hearing held on Monday can be watched on TVW here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.