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Gang Prevention Plan Meets Resistance at General Assembly

Posted July 25, 2007

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— State lawmakers have a plan to combat the rise of gangs in North Carolina, but one group, trying to improve the lives of young African-Americans, is not sold on the idea.

The Street Gang Prevention Act would make it a crime to be part of gang that engages in criminal activity, to organize a gang, to coerce people to join gangs or to threaten them if they want to leave. Under the bill, the offenses would be felonies, which would likely mean prison time.

Mayors and police officers statewide came to the Legislature Wednesday to support the bill's sponsors, but some activists said the bill focuses too much on locking people up and not enough on keeping kids from heading into gang life in the first place.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell recently urged a House committee to pass the anti-gang legislation.

"It's truly a tool we need to deal with gang activity across the country, across the state," he said.

However, the Triangle Lost Generation Task Force said longer sentences are a failed strategy. Officials said the bill will only lead to more racial profiling and a disproportionate number of minorities in prison. Plus, critics like Otis Lyons, a former gang member, argue increased prison time only increases gang cohesion.

"Prisons don't work for the majority because prison is designed to send them back out there like animals," he said.

The group would like to see more money spent on keeping kids from joining gangs in the first place.

"Funds that are to be allocated to the governor's Crime Commission, which can actually be used for suppression as well as prevention and intervention, is only allocated in the first year and is to the tune of $3 million," said Landon Adams, of the Lost Generation Take Force. "If, after five years, the conservative fiscal projections hold true as we stand today, the money spent in the street gang prevention will be 95 percent toward incarceration and 5 percent to intervention."

Under the bill, communities would be allowed to apply for grants to prevent gang activity.


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  • gvmntcheese Jul 26, 2007

    Winston, we had that here for over 30 years. Its called eugenics and anyone here who supports it should remember where they are on this part of the globe...

  • whatusay Jul 26, 2007

    I think we should have a Federal Boot Camp just for convicted gang members. They should spend 2 years in military training, then be drafted into the military to serve 4 years. Those that prove themselves should be allowed to leave the military. Those that display continual behavioral problems will remain in the military.

  • shoptalker Jul 25, 2007

    Ask any local high schooler-gangs are here.

  • ashley25 Jul 25, 2007

    Again I add, if "change" is what we really want, then we have to put our money where our mouth is (or keystrokes rather)...support the efforts of organizations like Hip Hop Haven, Campaign 4 Change, and the Triangle Lost Generation Task Force...

    For more information, please feel free to contact me at ashley_kopp@hiphophaven.org

  • mindyourown Jul 25, 2007

    Parents (and single parents) are the front line of defense as their upbringing begins at home. The Military is the second line of defense, or aren't they tough enough to handle the military?

  • ladyblue Jul 25, 2007

    Since kids seem to be so impressionable in there wee years maybe we need to send these little fellows to jail one day and let some one tour them to what it's like. I'm sure some of you think this is crazy and I said this on the other post. These little wee ones are seeing drug activity, gang activity from the time they go out in their yards to play. By time they are in first or second grade they need to see the other side of the choices to be in gangs. Maybe the man whose an x member would be a good one to tour with them and explain how gangs get there. Some screened gang members in there may even volunteer to talk with them. Beats waiting until they're already approached by gangs and don't know how to say NO like being taught to say No to drugs. I think they've been trying after school programs and programs for ever and it's not working,

  • 1_at_Risk Jul 25, 2007

    We all remember how well the DARE program kept these gang members from doing drugs. Yeah Right! If the District Attorneys office will put them in jail for the crimes they are already committing we won't need this new law.

  • Winston Jul 25, 2007

    Geisha Girl said: "A child joining a gang doesnt mean that the parents are at fault or unsupervised or uncared for."

    My son NEVER had the chance because of MY supervision. It was easy. I cared about his upbringing.

  • Winston Jul 25, 2007

    MOST of these kids are being raised in a single-parent home. Pass a law requiring the STERILIZATION of deadbeat(non-supportive:financially and/or emotionally) parents. It might not help the gang problem, but it will make a few folks learn to spell the words: 'birth control'!!!!!

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Jul 25, 2007

    Oh definitely- there's no better way to prove that you're a "gangster" then to shoot at someone that's not afraid to kill you or themselves! That's "tough"