U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a conference call Tuesday emphasized the need to crackdown on gang activity as a way to curb substance abuse and violence throughout New York.
“We can never allow the lure of gangs to surpass opportunities for our children to grow and achieve their full potential,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Too many communities are seeing increasing gang activity and the violent crime that comes with it. It’s time to fight back with better resources for our law enforcement, tougher penalties to lock up offenders, positive role models to guide our children to success, and unite communities to keep our families safe.”
According to statistics provided by the Senator, there are more than 22,000 gang members in New York City with more than 670,000 suffering from substance abuse as a result of gang trafficking. It is estimated that there are between 2,500 and 3,499 gang members in Queens.
In an effort to help combat the issue Gillibrand is introducing legislation which she says would combat gang activity, keep at-risk youth out of gangs, and keep our communities safe and economy growing.
On Long Island, there are as many as 5,000 gang members and more than 335,000 people suffering from substance abuse fueled in part by gangs trafficking drugs.
Gillibrand is cosponsoring the Youth PROMISE Act, aimed at preventing children from joining gangs through policy development.
In addition to prevention, Gillibrand said it is also important to have access to youth mentoring and is cosponsoring the JUMP Act. It would also authorize the Department of Justice to continue funding for quality mentoring services. The program implements one-on-one mentoring between responsible adults and youth.
While, reaching youth is important. Gillibrand is also hoping to give law enforcement agencies more resources to combat gang related crime. Co-sponsoring the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2009, the legislation creates tougher penalties for gang related offenses in addition to authorizing the Attorney General to expand the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program and the Safe Streets Program.
A media campaign would also be launched to help inform people on the dangers of heroine.
Gillibrand is also working to restore funding cuts to state grants administered through the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools that were eliminated in budget cuts.