Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bob McDonnell Releases Plan to “Make Virginia a Gang-Free Zone”

Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate McDonnell’s proposals include: Appointing State Anti-Gang Coordinator at Deputy Secretary Level; Implementation of Richmond’s Successful GRIP Program in Other Communities; Expanded Prevention Programs; Broadened “Gang-Free” Zone; Making Gang Recruitment a Class 6 Felony

LeesburgBob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Attorney General of Virginia, traveled to Loudoun County Thursday to unveil his anti-gang policy, “Making Virginia a Gang-Free Zone.” McDonnell was joined at the policy announcement by Congressman Frank Wolf, along with local public safety and elected officials.


McDonnell’s “Making Virginia a Gang-Free Zone” plan is highlighted by the following proposals:


·         Appoint a new State “Anti-Gang Coordinator,” at the deputy secretary level using existing resources

·         Aid individual localities in replicating a version of Richmond’s successful and nationally recognized Gang Reduction and Intervention Program (GRIP)

·         Expand prevention programs like “Class Action” and “Badges for Baseball”

·         Assess certain state agencies to determine if we are best utilizing their assets in fighting gangs 

·         Expand the role of the State Police in Anti-Gang Task Forces, gang investigations, and the development of gang intelligence

·         Reallocate existing resources within the Department of Corrections  to improve our ability to identify, track, control and debrief gang members who are within prison walls

·         Support Community Corrections efforts and require effective implementation of prisoner reentry plans

·         Expand “gang-free school zones” into “gang-free zones” 

·         Toughen penalties for gang recruitment at all levels 

·         Broaden gang recruitment statute to specifically include new electronic mediums

·         Amend the gang participation statute to include “any felony” committed on behalf of a gang, as well as certain misdemeanors


Speaking about Virginia’s gang problem, McDonnell noted, “The level of gang violence continues to grow in some regions of Virginia, and we are seeing gang activity in areas where we have never seen it before.  As Governor, combating criminal street gangs will be one of my top public safety priorities.  I will do what it takes to work with our local authorities and our communities to make Virginia a ‘gang free zone’.”


McDonnell continued, “Four years ago Loudoun’s State Senator, and now Virginia’s Attorney General, Bill Mims, joined with Delegate Dave Albo (R-Springfield) to patron legislation establishing “Gang-Free School Zones”. Now we are going to build on this effort by broadening Virginia’s “Gang-Free Zones” to go beyond schools to include community centers, libraries, state hospitals and other public areas so that any gang offenses committed in these areas come with harsher penalties. I will also increase the penalty for gang recruitment from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. We must aggressively and proactively combat gangs in the Commonwealth. I will make this effort a priority in my administration by appointing a state anti-gang coordinator at the Deputy Secretary level within the Office of the Secretary of Public Safety. “


McDonnell also remarked, “I will be a Governor who is equally committed to keeping Virginia’s children out of gangs in the first place. As Attorney General I saw the incredible success of our GRIP effort in Richmond. By providing positive alternatives to our young people we can keep them away from gangs and on the path to bright futures. I will work to expand GRIP to other Virginia communities, as well as the “Class Action” program to all Virginia schools. And I will be a strong supporter of private initiatives, such as the “Badges for Baseball” program in which the Office of the Attorney General, law enforcement, and Boys & Girls Clubs mentors partner with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.  The “Badges for Baseball” program, which has been implemented in various locations across Virginia, gives our children the healthy opportunities they need to stay gang-free. Every child in every community deserves an opportunity to succeed.”


Commenting on Bob McDonnell’s record and vision on the issue, Congressman Frank Wolf noted, “Bob McDonnell has a record of leadership in the fight against gangs. He understands that gangs threaten Virginia’s future. His plan to make Virginia a “Gang-Free Zone” is exactly what we need to continue this fight in the years ahead, and to make sure our children get the opportunity to grow up crime free, with bright futures.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

Tags: , ,


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