New Weapons in the Fight Against Gangs

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					New Weapons in the Fight Against Gangs
Boris Weintraub
Parks & Recreation; Nov 2009; 44, 11; Docstoc
pg. 46




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Description: The centers offered free meals, sports, concerts, movies, discussions, mentoring, and a host of community-chosen programs to lure young people, keep them busy happy, and even motivate them to change their ways, That first year, the eight Summer Night Lights neighborhoods experienced a 17 percent drop in overall violent crime, including an astonishing 86 percent decrease in homicides and a 23 percent drop in aggravated assaults, in 2009, the program expanded to 15 recreation centers (and one school) and attracted nearly 50,000 visits a week for eight weeks, on a budget of $2.8 million, half from the city and the other half through philanthropic donations. The 10 local kids hired in each neighborhood are the key to the program's success, as well as the perfect example of how valuable it is to engage them, says Jeff Carr, formerly the city's deputy mayor for gang reduction and youth development and now the mayor's chief of staff. In 2008, the city provided free access during the summer to all its recreation centers and parks for kids under the age of 17, waiving the annual membership fee that proved onerous ior many poorer youngsters.
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