6 U.S. Cities Slated to Receive DOJ Anti-Gang Funds

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today announced six locations for a new $15 million Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative that will devote extensive resources to defeating some of the most violent and pervasive gangs in the country. Gonzales made the announcement March 31 at the National Gang Summit in Los Angeles hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The six target areas are Los Angeles, Tampa, Fla., Cleveland, the “222 Corridor” that stretches from Easton to Lancaster, Penn. (near Philadelphia), the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, and Milwaukee. Supported by $2.5 million in grant funds per site, this new initiative will incorporate prevention and enforcement efforts, as well as programs to assist released prisoners as they reenter society. By integrating prevention, enforcement and prisoner reentry, this new initiative aims to address gang membership and gang violence at every stage.

“The Department of Justice’s anti-gang initiative will help us prevent gang membership, prosecute gang violence, and prepare offenders to return to society and resist the allure of gang activity,” said Gonzales.

The initiative was first announced by the attorney general on Feb. 15, during his speech on the key priorities for the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative complements existing DOJ programs to combat gangs and reduce gun-related crime throughout the country. Those programs include the Violent Crime Impact Teams, Safe Streets Task Forces and the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative, under which the number of federal firearms prosecutions has increased 73 percent in the past five years. This year, the DOJ will devote $30 million in grants to expand PSN to include new and enhanced anti-gang efforts, and $10 million in grant funds to support PSN’s gun crime reduction programs.

These six locations were selected to receive comprehensive anti-gang resources based on a variety of factors, including the severity of the gang problem, established infrastructure to support the envisioned prevention, enforcement, reentry components, and existing partnerships prepared to focus intensely on the gang problem. United States Attorneys in the six locations selected today will be responsible for coordinating federal, state and local efforts under this initiative.

Gonzales’ strategy to combat gangs, which directed the development of this new initiative, is two-fold: First, prioritize prevention programs to provide America’s youth, as well as offenders returning to the community, with opportunities that help them resist gang involvement. Second, ensure robust enforcement policies when gang-related violence does occur. Accordingly, each U.S. attorney in the selected areas will work with state, local and community partners to implement strategies that address the following areas:

  • Prevention: The DOJ will make available approximately $1 million in grants per community to support comprehensive prevention efforts such as the Gang Reduction Program, which focuses on reducing youth-gang crime and violence by addressing the full range of personal, family and community factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency and gang activity.
  • Enforcement: The DOJ will make available approximately $1 million in grants per community to help support enforcement programs that will focus law enforcement efforts on the most significant violent gang offenders.
  • Prisoner Reentry: Approximately $500,000 per community will be made available to create reentry assistance programs that will provide transitional housing, job readiness and placement assistance, and substance abuse and mental health treatment to prisoners reentering society.

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