New York Anti-Gang Programs
The city of New York has one of the lowest gang activities in the United States (Jackman 2007). This interesting statistic is due to a concerted effort by the state to tackle the problem. New York began to use social programs to combat gangs from as early as the 1950’s. The city recognized that the gang problem was essentially a social problem and decided to use social programs to tackle it. The New York gang control social programs drew from the social work model pioneered in Chicago, called the Chicago Area Project (CAP).
Civic groups, churches, and settlement houses formed the Lower eastside Neighborhood Association (LENA). Lena’s main mission was to negotiate truces between gangs. After limited success, it sought funding from the FORD foundation. Later the LENA mandate was broadened to include youth development and community organizing (Combating street gangs, nd.). The city later launched the Mobilization for Youth program in 1962. The program that was fully funded by the federal and state government aimed to disrupt gang activity by giving job training opportunities, job placement, subsidized employment, and social services programs (Combating street gangs, nd.).
The MFY program managed to reduce violent gang activity largely. The MFY later replaced its street work programs with adolescent services centers, which gave job and educational counseling services. City hall set up the Youth Board, which helped to disrupt gangs by targeted actions. The Youth Board recruited known neighborhood troublemakers and gave them responsibility as youth leaders. They were to organize summer recreation and employment programs in their communities. Some of the worst kids were employed to staff the programs and given opportunity for upward mobility. This approach of engaging gang members through social programs helped in their rehabilitation, which led to a decline in gang activity.
Gangs in New York City. (nd.). Retrieved from http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/07- 07_ch1_gangwars_gc-ps-ac-jj.pdf
Jackman, T. (18 July 2007). Social Programs to Combat Gangs Seen as More Effective Than Police. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/content/article/2007/07/17/AR2007071701716.html