GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER announces initiative to combat gang violence

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From left, Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary James Tilton, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris
Photo by William Foster, Office of Governor Schwarzenegger

From the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Governor Schwarzenegger today proposed an anti-gang initiative to fight gang violence in California . The California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Program (CalGRIP) will target more than $48 million in state and federal funding toward local anti-gang efforts, including job training, education and intervention programs, and will give law enforcement the tools to closely track gang leaders both inside state prisons and when they are released on parole. CalGRIP combines funding from different programs and directs them toward intervention, suppression and prevention. The Governor is also appointing a statewide gang coordinator, to coordinate all state programs and funding for anti-gang activities with local and federal agencies.

“A growing number of Californians are living a nightmare trapped inside their homes, afraid to come out unless they absolutely have to. That’s because in many of our cities, whole neighborhoods are terrorized and intimidated by street gangs. Kids are scared to go to school and parents are terrified for their safety,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “So today I am announcing a coordinated, multi-faceted, anti-gang initiative that focuses on the three strategies everyone agrees work best: suppression, intervention and prevention.”

For the past several months the Governor has met with mayors, law enforcement, faith-based and community organizations, local officials and legislators to discuss how communities across the state are fighting gangs and what resources they need to strengthen their success. At every meeting the Governor heard about the same problems: lack of coordination between state and local agencies and programs, lack of funding, and lack of a comprehensive approach to anti-gang efforts. “Everywhere I went, local law enforcement would say the problem is just being pushed from one city to the next. They say gang leaders come out of state prisons and go right back to terrorizing their communities – law enforcement finds out they have gang leaders back in their communities when gang-related violence spikes. Prosecutors say they need more tools to protect witnesses. Community leaders say they can get kids out of gangs but they need help with job training and education. The State spends hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on education, job training and substance abuse treatment every year – with no focused coordination on gang activities. We need a comprehensive approach to gang violence that provides a statewide framework with long-term solutions,” Governor Schwarzenegger said.

Details of the initiative include:

– The Governor’s Plan Strengthens Law Enforcement on the Streets and in Our Courts

– CalGRIP treats violent gang members like High-Risk Sex Offenders.

– The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and an advisory committee of gang experts will establish a new parolee designation in California : “High Risk Gang Offender.” Like sex offenders, high risk gang parolees will be subject to special parole conditions that limit their ability to recruit children into gangs and limit their access to gang-infested areas. Offenders convicted of gang-related offenses will be evaluated for HRGO status prior to release. Local law enforcement will be notified before High Risk Gang Offenders are released into their neighborhood in the same manner they receive notice of high risk sex offenders.

In addition, HRGOs:

o Will wear GPS devices. Under this plan the Governor will expand a CDCR pilot program that puts GPS devices on gang leaders. With existing resources, CDCR is prepared to expand its current pilot in San Bernardino (19 units) to 20 units each in Sacramento , Fresno and Los Angeles .

o Will register with law enforcement. The Governor will support legislation that makes it a crime for HRGOs to fail to register with local law enforcement upon release. Under CalGRIP, CDCR will advise local law enforcement before high-risk gang members are released back into their communities.

o Will be tracked statewide. Law enforcement will track HRGO parolees in LEADS, the statewide, multi-jurisdictional parolee database used by law enforcement.

CalGRIP makes gang members pay for their crimes.

o Permits civil suits. CalGRIP supports legislation that will let prosecutors and city attorneys bring damage suits against gang members who have violated civil injunctions, go after their assets to satisfy the judgment, and return any recovered funds to the community they have terrorized.

CalGRIP protects witnesses from threats and intimidation.

o Doubles funding for witness protection. CalGRIP allocates an additional $3 million, from the state Victims Restitution Fund, for a total of $6 million for witness protection programs.

o Makes witness intimidation a felony. CalGRIP supports legislation to make witness intimidation a felony and provides additional four-year terms for intimidating witness for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in affiliation with a criminal street gang.

o Helps targeted witnesses have their say. CalGRIP supports legislation to allow the admission of out-of-court statements made by a prosecution witness when gang members, through intimidation or acts of violence, prevent them from testifying in court.

CalGRIP focuses help on the hardest-hit communities.

* Makes high-intensity areas eligible for federal dollars. CalGRIP designates counties with jurisdictions as “High Intensity Gang Areas” (HIGAs). These are counties with the highest number (in the top 25) of gang-related homicides or homicides/resident. Jurisdictions within these counties can apply for additional funding for resources and programs. These funds will be allocated through a competitive process administered by the State Gang Coordinator (see below).

· Homicide rates are established and published by the DOJ, which updates this information annually in June. The following counties currently have jurisdictions that rank in the top 25: Alameda , Contra Costa, Fresno , Los Angeles , Monterey , Orange , Riverside , Sacramento , San Bernardino , San Diego , San Francisco , San Joaquin, Santa Clara , San Mateo , Merced , Tulare , Kern, Stanislaus, Butte , and Madera .

* HIGA designations position California to take advantage of funds that may become available as a result of federal legislation championed by Senator Feinstein.
CalGRIP puts more law enforcement on gang-infested streets.

o Increases CHP support for police and sheriffs. Under CalGRIP, 100 California Highway Patrol officers will rotate though 90 day deployments in HIGAs. These resources are provided through the CHP’s Project IMPACT and will be paid for by overtime costs in CHP’s Tactical Alert Response Fund.

o Fights gang activity in prisons and jail. New, regional CDCR gang task forces in Los Angeles and Fresno counties, the Bay Area and the Inland Empire will help local law enforcement reduce prison gang activities ($3.3 million and 34 positions).

o Partners with local police. CDCR will establish a new, centralized Criminal Intelligence and Analysis Unit to gather gang intelligence from all 33 state prisons and disseminate this information to local law enforcement ($3.1 million and 36 positions.)

o Centralizes information for all law enforcement. CalGRIP provides funding for the CalGANGS law enforcement database ($300,000 in ongoing state funding).

The Governor’s Plan Centralizes Funds and Programs

CalGRIP Targets More Than $48 Million To Fight Gangs.

o CalGRIP brings together more than $48 million in state funds, grants and federal dollars for suppression, intervention and prevention programs. In addition, the Governor’s budget investment in CTE courses, equipment and teachers ($227 million), after school programs ($547 million) and school counselors ($208 million) will give at-risk kids alternatives to gang life.

CalGRIP Creates a One-Stop Shop For Social Services, Law Enforcement and Leadership.

o Fixes the current situation. Until now, the State of California ‘s anti-gang funds and programs have not been centralized or coordinated, making it difficult for local jurisdictions to access the substantial resources that already exist to fight gang violence.

o Brings resources together. Under CalGRIP, the Governor will appoint a State Gang Coordinator in the Office of Emergency Services to:

* Coordinate anti-gang programs and grants at all state agencies.

* Serve as the state contact for local governments and community organizations.

* Collect, evaluate and promote local best practices.

* Track all federal anti-gang funding and grants.

· The coordinator will be supported by a Task Force and stakeholder Advisory Committee.

The Governor’s Plan Strengthens Communities

CalGRIP Helps Rehabilitate and Reintegrate Gang Members.

* Funds anti-gang initiatives in local communities. CalGRIP provides $7 million to local governments in 2007-08 for anti-gang programs, awarded through a competitive process administered by the State Gang Coordinator. These grants will be funded by the State Penalty Fund. The amount increases to approximately $21 million in upcoming years.

o Funds job training programs. CalGRIP redirects $2.8 million in uncommitted Workforce Investment Act funds to expand job training for current gang members, gang-involved and at-risk youth. Under the plan, local programs will match state funds at a 1:1 ratio, for a $5.6 million total impact in 2007-08. Next year, CalGRIP will redirect $11.5 million in uncommitted funds, for a total impact of $23 million next year.

o Helps businesses hire reformed gang members. The State Gang Coordinator will develop a list of community organizations that rehabilitate and provide job training to former gang members, as a resource for businesses interested in hiring them.

o Gives a tax break to employers that provide jobs. CalGRIP adds “former gang member” to list of criteria allowing companies in Enterprise Zones to receive tax credits of up to $29,234 per employee. Status of “former gang member” verified by completion of a program recognized by the gang coordinator.

o Helps young gang members give back and move on. CalGRIP will allocate $1,288,496 in federal and state funds to support 34 full-time AmeriCorps Restoring Youth and Communities positions. Reformed gang members will fill these positions. They will mentor youth who are currently incarcerated in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities or on parole as they get out of gang life.

CalGRIP Keeps At-Risk Kids Out of Gangs.

o Gives 5,000 kids a safer summer. CalGRIP will help 5,000 young people attend summer programs in 2008 that keep them off the streets. Under the plan, $2 million will be allocated to eligible HIGA counties to expand summer programs in collaboration with community organizations.

o Funds juvenile justice programs. CalGRIP redirects $1.1 million in uncommitted, discretionary Juvenile Accountability Block Grants for programs targeting at-risk youth. Under the plan, local programs will match state funds at 25%, for a $1.375 million total impact.

o Gets youth into job training. CalGRIP sets aside 200 slots in California Conservation Corps summer programs for gang-involved young adults.

o Helps young people leave gangs. CalGRIP expands an existing CDCR pilot program for incarcerated youth who are trying to leave gangs. It increases the number of young people participating in the program from 280 youth to 455 and funds two new 10-bed facilities. ($820,000 from the State Penalty Fund).

o Protects kids from gang violence at school. CalGRIP provides $9 million in ongoing funding to HIGA county offices of education to hire approximately 120 additional school resource officers. Under the plan, counties must provide a 25% local match.

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