Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., (NJ-06) jointly introduced the Fighting Gangs and Empowering Youth Act of 2010, legislation that increases coordination amongst government and community organizations at all levels with programs that combat gang violence and recruitment. The bill funds community and after school programs that educate young adults on the dangers of gangs and improves prison to community transition programs to reduce recidivism.
“From our cities to our suburbs and beyond, families, police, prosecutors are at war with gangs, and we need to give them full support from the federal level. That means not only giving them the tools to crack down harder on gang activity, but also developing the activities, mentoring and job opportunities to steer youth and ex-gang members away from that destructive lifestyle,” said Menendez. “This has become a pervasive problem in need of a comprehensive solution, and that’s what we want to help deliver.”
“I think the perception is that gang recruitment and gang violence only take place in major cities, but gang violence is becoming more prevalent in communities throughout New Jersey and across the country,” said Pallone. “Better education programs and community involvement aim to prevent young people from joining gangs early on, and hearing the same message about the danger of gangs from multiple sources will further reinforce that message.”
The legislation reauthorizes important after-school programs like the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the National Coordinator Initiative, and brings together law enforcement, educators, non-profits, housing authorities and parents for improving public safety and violence prevention.
Consolidating and standardizing crime data as directed by the legislation of the US Attorney General will improve data accessibility and be helpful in targeting likely areas of gang recruitment.
The introduction of the legislation in the Senate comes prior to the Annual National Night Out, a community and nationwide effort to bring attention to crime problems in our neighborhoods. As part of the National Night Out, New Jerseyans are participating in neighborhood walks passing out educational fliers with crime reporting information, and suggestions on how to talk to young people about gang activity.