CNS – A statewide initiative expected to be on the November ballot that would require youths as young as 14 to be tried as adults if charged with gang-related crimes was opposed by two Los Angeles City Councilmen last week. The proposed Safe Neighborhoods Act—authored by Sen. George Runner, R- Lancaster, San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt and Mike Reynolds, author of the “Three Strikes” law—also would boost penalties for gang- related crimes and raise funding for criminal justice programs. But Councilmen Bernard Parks and Tony Cardenas say the act would cost too much money, make prisons even more overcrowded and have a negative impact on youths. They filed a motion that if approved would put the city on record as opposing the initiative.
“We will not feed our children to the wolves,” said Cardenas, who chairs the councils’ Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development.
“This archaic initiative would require the taxpayer to foot the bill and send these children to the most expensive school we pay for-prison, where they will learn how to become better criminals,” he said.
“This should be called the Scary Neighborhood Act, not the Safe Neighborhood Act.”
Parks called the initiative “misleading.”
“This bill severely cuts funding for some of our most important youth development programs and places a single-minded approach on enforcing the law,” he said.
“Studies have reflected that law enforcement cannot arrest its way out of issues confronting our society.”
The initiative also would:
Supporters say they have gathered enough signatures to have the initiative placed on the November ballot. The signatures are in the process of being verified by county registrars of voters. The measure’s backers include Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.
“Sheriff and police departments have done an admirable job in fighting gang crime, but they are pushed to the brink, and crime rates associated with gangs are starting to rise,” Baca said.
“We need to join forces and share resources if we are to bring crime rates down and keep our communities safe.”