Gang violence is a serious issue in our country and state.
Young people sometimes join gangs to gain a sense of discipline, organization or protection that they may not have in other areas of their lives. Others join gangs to feel a connection to a “family” group, to get money or simply because they enjoy the excitement of such a dangerous lifestyle. Young people who feel they lack socioeconomic opportunities, do not have sufficient supervision and guidance from caring adults or have friends in gangs may be at-risk for gang activity.
Keeping kids in school and providing environments where they can feel safe are crucial to reducing the number of young people involved in gangs. This past session, along with initiatives focusing on dropout prevention, we passed legislation in the House that would reduce gangs and gang violence by increasing the criminal penalties for gang activity and promoting prevention, intervention and rehabilitation programs in our schools and communities. That legislation (HB 274) is still pending in the Senate.
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Gangs in North Carolina
Gang activity, gang membership and gang-related crime in North Carolina have increased in the past 10 years. The General Assembly has instructed the Governor’s Crime Commission to study patterns of gang activity and the structures of street gangs. The Governor’s Crime Commission has recently found 400 gangs with more than 5,000 members in North Carolina.
The House Select Committee on Street Gang Prevention
The House Select Committee on Street Gang Prevention appointed by Speaker Joe Hackney will identify the extent of the gang presence in North Carolina; examine patterns of criminal gang activity and the organized nature of street gangs; consider ways, including increased criminal penalties, to prevent gang violence; identify strategies for establishing effective prosecutions for gang activity; evaluate successful anti-gang programs in North Carolina and other states; consider the impact of gangs in the state’s corrections system and study any other issue it deems relevant.
Members of the committee are Rep. Michaux (Chair), Rep. Alma Adams, Rep. Dan Blue, Rep. Debbie Clary, Rep. Nelson Cole, Rep. Tricia Cotham, Rep. Jim Crawford, Rep. William Current, Rep. Margaret Dickson, Rep. Beverly Earle, Rep. Phillip Frye, Rep. Earl Jones, Rep. Marian McLawhorn and Rep. Tracy Walker.
Gang Prevention Grants
Earlier this year the Governor’s Crime Commission distributed $1.5 million in grants to 19 communities to help law enforcement reduce and prevent gang activity in their communities. Communities with gang activity that had not previously received funding were given priority. The following areas received grants: Cabarrus County, $100,000; Chatham County, $99,000; Dunn, $99,870; Duplin County, $74,970; Edgecombe County, $68,470; Goldsboro, $98,140; Harnett County, $75,660; City of Henderson, $85,290; Henderson County, $99,080; Iredell County, $90,870; Kinston, $100,000; LaGrange, $65,980; Lenoir County, $60,000; New Bern, $96,620; Rockingham County, $75,000; Rocky Mount, $22,720; Tarboro, $36,850; Wayne County, $74,060; and Wilson, $86,590.
This session we approved $4.8 million in grants that will be awarded to government agencies and community groups working on gang violence prevention, intervention and suppression. Thirty-four counties have been selected as potential recipients of funds because of the high degree of gang activity in their communities. Grant applications from these counties will be considered first. These counties are: Alamance, Bertie, Buncombe, Catawaba, Chatham, Cumberland, Davidson, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Gates, Guilford, Harnett, Iredell, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pasquotank, Person, Pitt, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Sampson, Union, Vance, Warren, and Wake. Organizations receiving funds must supplement state funds with a 25 percent local match. In addition, 75 percent of the grant should be dedicated to gang prevention and intervention. The remaining 25 percent will be dedicated to gang suppression.
Drug and Violent Crime Agents
We set aside $303,200 to create three sworn agent positions at the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate drug, violent crime, and gang-related cases.
Training School Resource Officers
Legislators appropriated $88,100 to create a staff position under the Department of Justice to develop and administer standard school safety and gang prevention programs for school resource officers.
Please remember that you can visit the General Assembly’s website to look up bills, view lawmaker biographies and access other information.
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By working together, we can make Northampton, Vance and Warren Counties and all regions of North Carolina a better place to live, work and raise a family.