More police, more prisons and more punitive measures aren’t the answer to reducing gang activity, concludes a new U.S. study that experts here say underscores the need for Canada to reject that approach in favour of investing in jobs, schools and programs for disenfranchised youth.
The study, released today by the Washington, D.C.-based Justice Policy Institute, points to Los Angeles and Chicago as examples of the “tragic failure” of the popular suppression approaches to gangs.
“Despite decades of aggressive gang enforcement — including mass arrests and surveillance, huge gang databases, and increased prison sentences for gang crimes — gang violence continues at unacceptable rates,” the authors conclude.
Strategies that promote jobs, education and healthy communities help draw youth away from gangs and violence, the study said.
Former Liberal MPP Alvin Curling, appointed by the province to conduct a youth violence review, said the report supports his opinion that putting more people in prison won’t curb gang violence over time.