Gang Violence and the Color of Change

Dear Friends,

Gangs have plagued Black communities across the country for decades, but we’ve seen few large-scale efforts that go to the root of the problem. Thanks to Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia, that could change. Now he needs our support.

The Youth PROMISE Act, Scott’s bill, focuses on giving young people real alternatives to gangs, instead of locking them up and throwing them into a system that often turns them into hardened criminals.

The bill has some support in Congress, but a strong show of support from everyday people like us will help make sure that it passes. That’s why I’ve joined in asking my senators and representative to support the Youth PROMISE Act. Will you? It only takes a few seconds:

It’s clear that the current national strategy to combat gang participation isn’t working.[1] Every day more young people are thrown into jail instead of being given opportunities to turn their lives around. It does very little to solve the problem of gangs, and it compounds the hopelessness that leads to participation in gangs in the first place.

The Youth PROMISE (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education) Act would change this by providing young people with critical support and opportunities to succeed so they’ll see that they have options that don’t involve joining a gang.

The Youth PROMISE Act would give communities greater access to a range of youth intervention methods with a record of success — like mentoring and after-school programs — and let those communities decide which practices are best suited for their specific needs. It would give communities funding to hire police officers specially trained to deal with youth. And it would provide crucial mental health services to young people who need them.[2]

By signing on in support, you’ll join dozens of national civic groups, religious denominations, justice organizations, and political leaders who realize that the kind of change offered by the Youth PROMISE Act is long overdue. Even law enforcement officials are coming to the conclusion that we can’t simply arrest our way out of this problem.[3]

Now it’s our turn. Please join me by telling your representative and senators to give our youth the support they need to succeed. And when you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thank you.


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