Attorney General looks at San Jose's gang prevention

May 20, 2011 7:38:06 PM PDT
San Jose is getting national recognition for its gang prevention efforts. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the South Bay programs are a model for the rest of the country. On Friday, he toured one of the programs making a difference in young lives.

Job Corps Center student Angel Miranda-Lares had the U.S. attorney general's full attention. Eric Holder listened to Angel's story of getting involved with a gang at age 12 and how he broke free with help.

"Honestly, it's fairly simple to get into a gang. It's getting out that is 10 times worse, especially if you don't have that support to leave the gang," said Miranda-Lares.

Holder toured the Job Corps Center which helps at-risk youth finish their education and in many cases severe ties to gang life.

"This school is very committed to anti-gang activities," said Miranda-Lares.

San Jose has more than two dozen gang prevention and intervention programs. The attorney general says the city's efforts set the gold standard nationwide.

"I really think that the approach that is being taken here to really kind of look at individuals, youngsters, holistically and deal with all of the issues they are confronting is ultimately the way in which this nation will get a handle on the problems that for too long have bedeviled us," said Holder.

Police say the city has at least 6,000 validated gang members and there's reason for concern. In 2007, there were 16 gang related murders. Last year there were a total of six.

"Can I guarantee there will be an uptick? I hope and pray that there would not be but anytime you pull resources from such a major issue you have the potential to see a negative consequence," said Mario Maciel from the Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force.

The nation's top cop says young people involved with gangs deserve a better future and points to Miranda-Lares as an ambassador of hope.

"It's leading to college. I've gone into vocation training, customer service and I'm taking advanced training in TCU which is transportation communication union," said Miranda-Lares.

If one picture helps illustrate San Jose's success, a former gang member at ease with the attorney general is that snapshot.


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