Congressman Tony Cardenas

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of the President’s recognition of Youth Justice Awareness Month, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and long-time juvenile justice reform advocate, this past week introduced legislation that would revolutionize the way American law enforcement deals with young people involved in the justice system, particularly those in gangs.

Currently, the United States puts more of its kids in jail than any other developed nation. Cárdenas’ “Community-Based Gang Intervention Act’’ (H.R. 3783) will provide funding and direction for agencies to intervene in the lives of young people who are at-risk, keeping them out of the prison system and making our communities safer.

“Our country runs a deficit every year and one of the biggest places we waste money is putting our kids in jail, instead of using proven, cheaper methods to keep them out of jail and train them to be productive members of our society,” said Cárdenas. “This legislation is not just commonsense, but it is also absolutely proven to work. When we keep kids out of jail by keeping them out of gangs, we save money and we save kids’ lives. As a country, we have failed every child we put in jail. Instead of failing them, my bill gives us the chance to help them turn their lives around.”

Community-Based Gang Intervention (CBGI) has been highly successful in California, largely as a result of intervention programs funded throughout California by the Schiff-Cárdenas Crime Prevention Act, partially written by Cárdenas.

CBGI identifies situations in which gang-related crime could result in revenge crimes, financial impacts on the families of the victims and alleged criminals and general deterioration to the community. Using intervention specialists, including former gang members, CBGI stops escalation of violence, while moving youth away from opportunities to join gangs.

H.R. 3783 was cosponsored by Reps. Cohen, Cummings, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Jackson Lee, Lujan Grisham, Napolitano, Rangel, Roybal-Allard, Rush, Scott (VA), Serrano, Van Hollen and Vargas.

Text of the legislation is available on Cárdenas’ website.

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