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Congressman Tony Cardenas

Representing the 29th District of California

H.R. 2669 - Community-Based Gang Intervention Act of 2013

H.R. 2669 The Community-Based Gang Intervention Act of 2013

 On July 12, 2013, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) introduced the first bill in a package of legislation designed to help save taxpayers money, while keeping more of America’s youth out of the criminal justice system.

Currently, the United States imprisons a markedly greater share of its youth population than any other developed nation. Cárdenas’ “Community-Based Gang Intervention Act’’ (H.R. 2669) 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.

One approach that has been highly successful in California has been Community-Based Gang Intervention (CBGI), including 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 prevents further escalation of violence, while moving youth away from opportunities to join gangs.

“Getting between kids and crime before crime lands them in prison is the cheapest, most effective way we have to protect our kids,” said Cárdenas. “This is not a pie-in-the-sky dream world where we use buzzwords to cover a lack of impact. California has literally saved millions of dollars and kept thousands of kids out of jail, sending them into the workforce to be productive members of society. We know how to keep kids out of gangs and out of jail. My legislation will help create federal support for local solutions to do just that.”

CBGI is a comprehensive approach to creating long-lasting, cost effective results, despite a majority of state funding for juvenile justice going directly to jails and prisons.

The Community-Based Gang Intervention Act will allow the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to provide funding for organizations that utilize the CBGI model, and ensure that recipients of such funding are held accountable for utilizing funds in a cost-effective manner. 

The legislation, which will provide a necessary framework for communities and government to work together to prevent gang violence before it begins, is co-sponsored by 20 other Representatives.

As part of his holistic attempt to reform juvenile justice in the United States, Rep. Cárdenas also carried a letter to President Obama, calling on him to support the concepts focused on by the CBGI Act, including putting more counselors and mental health services in public schools.

Along with Congressional co-sponsors, the CBGI Act is being supported by juvenile justice stakeholders like noted gangs expert Luis J. Rodriguez.

Information on the CBGI Act:

Section by Section summary

Full text of the legislation as filed

Library of Congress legislation tracking page from THOMAS.GOV