New approach needed to dismantle street gangs

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HARRY C. ALFORD

 

(NNPA)—During my research on street gangs, one thing became clear: They are the primary source for drug distribution. The crimes conducted by these street gangs on a daily basis also include murder, bribery, extortion, robbery, carjacking, prostitution, human trafficking, and money laundering. Some gangs concentrate on some of these crimes but all of them have drug trafficking as their number one activity. This makes them truly a menace to our society. Yet, we ignore them for the most part. We tend to be blind to their destruction and terror. There are 1.4 million street gang members (2011) and we act like they don’t exist.
There are more than 2.1 million men and women incarcerated. The majority are there for drug related-crimes. Approximately 650,000 persons are released from our jails/prisons each year but at least 52 percent will return within three years for parole violation or a criminal act. It is a social disgrace to have that many human beings incarcerated and then they get into a “revolving door.” The cost of housing a state prisoner can be as high as $45,000 per year. Wait—it gets worse. It is so disappointing that when we persuade a company to hire some of our youngsters for on the job training they cannot pass a drug test. During the Katrina rebuilding, we warned potential job applicants that they would be tested for drugs and urged them to become clean. For many it was too late because they were hooked and couldn’t shake it.

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