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Gang Study Finds Prevention Is Key

Posted July 18, 2007

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— A Washington think tank says misconceptions about gangs have led to poor legislation and have cost taxpayers millions in failed strategies. The group says the answer isn't as much about police as it is about prevention.

The war on gangs takes many different shapes in the Triangle. Finding the right mix of intervention and enforcement is a constant battle for authorities, but one that the nationwide report suggests they are losing.

The Justice Policy Institute says misconceptions about gangs in big cities lead to failed policies, and other areas risk following the cities' lead.

Gangs are responsible for relatively few crimes, whites make up the largest group of adolescent gang members and more police, prisons and tougher sentences only increase gang cohesion, the institute's report said.

“Prisons don’t work for the majority, because prison is designed to send them back out there like animals,” said Otis Lyons, a former gang member.

Lyons said he has been shot twice, stabbed and hit over the head with an ax. He said it was prison that turned him around – but he concedes that he might be the exception.

“There’s not programs in there that is really going to rehabilitate a convict,” Lyons said. “I wanted to change myself.”

He is now trying to change the minds of other gang members through his group, “Campaign for Change,” and his work with the Triangle Lost Generation Task Force.

“People suggest that prison is gang university, and so we’re giving kids free room and board for graduate degrees in gang activity,” said Landon Adams, with the Lost Generation Task Force.

The task force's mission is to steer young people away from crime and to keep them out of prison by offering alternatives – a strategy shared by a Wake County task force on gang violence.

“I think there’s a role for law enforcement, especially when it comes to community safety,” said Kristen Rosselli, with Wake Gang Prevention. “But, ultimately, I know that the partnership believes we’re putting our effort into prevention and intervention. And that’s really where we’re going to make the difference.”


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  • mindyourown Jul 19, 2007

    Who really cares what color they are, if they're gang members and thugs then they are a disgrace to society and humanity, they need to be dealt with accordingly.

  • Rocknhorse Jul 19, 2007

    Nope! You don't have to like it. And you are still welcome to disagree. ;-) But just be aware that the media does know that hispanics are also white. They choose when to make the distinctions.

  • wizard633 Jul 19, 2007

    Rocknhorse...Thanks for the research. But it sure doesn't mean I have to like it or agree with it, does it? LOL

  • Rocknhorse Jul 19, 2007

    Agreed. Although, if you do the research, you will find that caucasian means light-skinned race. It represents people of European, Middle-Eastern, South Asian and North African descent. Hispanics originally hail from a spanish background and are indeed white or caucasian. The distinction made on forms these days is fairly recent (historically speaking) and is more to break down socio-economic groups as opposed to "race."

    Personally, I prefer the way my kids describe people... brown-skinned, peach-skinned, darker peach, kind of tanned.... This is a much more logical and innocent way to describe people, in my personal opinion.

    To me, that's a very innocent and accepting way to see others! My kids really don't know anything beyond that. I hope it will always stay that way!

  • wizard633 Jul 19, 2007

    Rocknhorse... I am going to have to agree to disagree with you on this! Sorry!!

  • Rocknhorse Jul 19, 2007

    Yes, I realize that there is a category for hispanic, caucasian, black, other. However, they are still considered white.

  • wizard633 Jul 19, 2007

    Rocknhorse...Hispanics are white!

    How do you fiqure? Take a look on any legal document & see if there isn't a place for hispanic under the race column.

  • Rocknhorse Jul 19, 2007

    No time for non-sense... I noticed that too! But in my area, it is black's & hispanic's, very few whites.

    Hispanics are white!

  • wizard633 Jul 19, 2007

    No time for non-sense... I noticed that too! But in my area, it is black's & hispanic's, very few whites.

  • Mrs. Fabulous Jul 19, 2007

    "...whites make up the largest group of adolescent gang members..."

    Learn something new everyday!