The War On Gangs

Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender, wrote an interesting editorial in the Chronicle earlier this week, which you can check out here. Basically, the City has begun to use heavy handed gang enforcement strategies as a way of trying to curb recent increases in gang violence. However, a new report comparing gang supression strategies in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York states that the types of strategies SF is trying to adopt, which are widely used in LA, do not work. Check out this passage from the article:

“Los Angeles…is a glaring example of a failed war on gangs. Over the past 20 years, Los Angeles has used gang injunctions, special gang task forces, gang databases and increased prison sentences to combat gangs and gang violence. The result: Los Angeles has six times as many gangs as it did 20 years ago and twice the number of gang members. With nearly 720 active gangs and 40,000 active gang members, Los Angeles is the gang capital of the world.

In contrast, New York City relies on community policing and gang intervention programs that provide jobs, counseling and prevention activities. Gang crime and violence there has dropped dramatically. Instead of trying to eliminate gangs, New York’s approach focuses on reducing gang violence. Before calling New York “soft” on crime, consider the following statistic: in 2005, the Los Angeles Police Department reported 11,402 gang-related crimes; the New York Police Department reported 520.”

Hmm, instead of trying to beat gangs out of a city, you pour resources into providing jobs, after school programs, counseling and violence prevention work? Who would have thought? Come on Bay Area, its time to take a stand and show some real leadership on this issue, instead of just being another region using the same old tactics in a war on inner city youth.

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