Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-33) announced a historic federal bill that she authored to improve gang intervention programs and prevent wasteful spending in the City of Los Angeles and across L.A. County.Â The bill was inspired by a community-Based Gang Intervention Model passed by the Los Angeles City Council last year. The legislation named the "Tony Cardenas Community-Based Gang Intervention Act" (H.R. 3526) is the first federal bill to help professionalize gang intervention workers across the nation and hold them to higher accountability standards. Gang interventionists reduce gang violence by mediating conflict between and among gang members through peace agreements and truces which have been tremendously successful in Los Angeles. Gang violence reduction, rumor control and crisis intervention methodology are included in the legislation by Rep. Watson.
Congresswoman Diane E. Watson is a nationally recognized leader on anti gang violence, youth development, and juvenile justice issues. Rep. Watson placed these issues at the forefront of her agenda. She sponsors community forums and town hall meetings and visits schools to encourage youth to concentrate on getting an education. The bill was developed with the input from Councilman Cardenas, intervention workers, community advisory members, intervention and prevention experts. Efforts to assure that diverse opinions are heard an invitation was extended to gang intervention workers to participate in developing and refining standards that tighten regulations on the delivery of prevention and intervention services.
"The Tony Cardenas Gang Intervention Act H.R. 3526 was created to ensure community-based gang intervention agencies are held accountable for providing holistic, integrated intervention services," said Watson. "The purpose of this bill is to address community violence as
a united entity. Increased prison costs have caused societal programs and services such as education, job creation, housing and healthcare
were reduced in order to maintain the growing prison industry."
Watson introduced this ground-breaking intervention method through her federal bill (TCGIA) which was introduced on July 31, 2009 and announce in Los Angeles at a press conference with Councilman Cardenas today (7/10/09). Former gang-affiliated youths were present at today's press conference to share how gang intervention programs changed their lives. One former gang member shared his story of being prosecuted as an adult when he was 17 for a gang-related crime. His intervention mentor helped
him turn his life around and inspired him to start an art program for at-risk teens. Many other youths were also there voicing support for Watson's
bill. Watson has been a nationally-recognized leader on education, youth development and juvenile justice issues, placing youth violence at the forefront of her agenda.
"We stand at a historic time where the nation and the rest of the world are looking to Los Angeles as the 'undisputed gang capital of
the world' for solutions to gang violence," said Councilman Cardenas. "Today, we are defining gang intervention on a federal level to ensure funding is utilized in a cost-effective manner and agencies are held accountable."
Rep. Watson began working to reduce gang violence and encouraged intervention programs while serving in the California State Senate. She continued this commitment in Congress by establishing a high school series entitled "Gang Violence: Searching for solutions." This latest legislative bill H.R. 3526 is a continuum of Congresswoman Watson's lauded involvement with youth and youth violence issues affecting their lives.