ACLU, Rep. Bobby Scott Call for Multi-front Steps to Ending Youth Violence

November 28, 2007 12:00 am

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Representative and panel of advocates discussed stopping gang violence and school-to-prison pipeline

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RICHMOND, Va. – A group of advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, joined Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) today to call on the Virginia community, as well as political and law enforcement leaders, to end the school-to-prison pipeline, the trend of increasingly funneling young people from the school system to the criminal justice system. Panelists discussed Rep. Scott’s Youth PROMISE Act as part of an alternative, focusing on preventing young people from committing crimes and joining gangs rather than just relying on the criminal justice system to punish youths who have broken the law.

Jesselyn McCurdy, a legislative counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, talked about the need to address gang violence at its roots by making sure communities have the resources to intervene in children’s lives before it’s too late.

The following can be attributed to ACLU Legislative Counsel Jesselyn McCurdy:

“Sticking handcuffs on a problem won’t make it go away. The criminal justice system has a role to play in ending gang violence, but to rely solely on it isn’t just naïve, it’s irresponsible, and it doesn’t work. Before we talk about second chances, we need to give young people a first chance. We need to prevent gang membership before it starts, and the ACLU applauds Representative Scott’s bill for taking the first step.”

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