At a time when gang activity remains stubbornly high after large declines at the end of the 1990s, activists and law-enforcement officials worry that local budget cuts to prevention programs could lead to problems ahead, reports the Christian Science Monitor. That was a focus of the National Gang Symposium in Orlando last week. The U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention said gang activity plateaued between 2005 and 2009 Between 2002 and 2009, the number of gangs increased more than 20 percent.
A speaker last week, identified only as Jackie, talked about Ft. Worth, Tx., which is expanding an antigang program despite budget cuts. Jackie said she was saved from gang life by Comin' Up, sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Worth in a partnership with the city. Joe Mollner of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America lauded Fort Worth, which realizes money will be saved through Comin’ Up because fewer youths will be sent to jail. “One of the problems with gang prevention, intervention, and suppression programs is you have to put the money in up front and the successes are hard to measure,” says Mollner. “We're finally starting to grasp that stopping the problem before it begins actually saves more money.”