By Charles J. Hynes
Brooklyn District Attorney
Recently I read about a program aimed at preventing gang violence and helping people who want to leave gangs. Can you explain how this program works?
Since 1994 when I launched my office’s Gang Bureau, we have worked tirelessly with the New York City Police Department and communities in Brooklyn to respond to the gang problem that is plaguing our cities.
Gangs and gang violence in our country is one of the greatest dangers affecting our youth. In 2007 I created “Project Re-Direct,” the first New York State prosecutor’s alternative to incarceration program for gang members, to focus on each of the individual gang member’s needs, and redirect them from the gangster lifestyle to that of law-abiding valued members of our community.
It is indisputable that gang presence creates serious problems in the community. The first step towards addressing this problem is the education of our youth, and working to help them resist the lure of joining a gang. Towards that end, my office conducts gang awareness workshops throughout the year at PTA and community board meetings, as well as at houses of worship and organizations that are faced with gang problems.
“Project Re-Direct” incorporates diversion, education and prosecution. The successful completion of the program results in a dismissal of criminal charges. I tell successful graduates that being in a gang guaranteed that they would end up in prison, the hospital or the cemetery. When they leave the program they do so as responsible, educated young people who understand that they are in control and responsible for their lives, and are ready to take their place in the world as contributing members of their communities and families.
To view a video of a NY1 interview with Deanna Rodriguez, Chief of the Gang Bureau, discussing gangs and Project Re-Direct please visit my website at www.brooklynda.org.