[House Hearing, 111 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
YOUTH VIOLENCE: TRENDS, MYTHS,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME, TERRORISM,
AND HOMELAND SECURITY
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED ELEVENTH CONGRESS
FEBRUARY 11, 2009
Serial No. 111-15
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan, Chairman
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California LAMAR SMITH, Texas
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.,
JERROLD NADLER, New York Wisconsin
ROBERT C. ``BOBBY'' SCOTT, Virginia HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
MAXINE WATERS, California DARRELL E. ISSA, California
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida STEVE KING, Iowa
STEVE COHEN, Tennessee TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
HENRY C. ``HANK'' JOHNSON, Jr., LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
Georgia JIM JORDAN, Ohio
PEDRO PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico TED POE, Texas
LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, Illinois JASON CHAFFETZ, Utah
BRAD SHERMAN, California TOM ROONEY, Florida
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin GREGG HARPER, Mississippi
CHARLES A. GONZALEZ, Texas
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SANCHEZ, California
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Florida
DANIEL MAFFEI, New York
Perry Apelbaum, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Sean McLaughlin, Minority Chief of Staff and General Counsel
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
ROBERT C. ``BOBBY'' SCOTT, Virginia, Chairman
PEDRO PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
JERROLD NADLER, New York TED POE, Texas
ZOE LOFGREN, California J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas TOM ROONEY, Florida
MAXINE WATERS, California BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE COHEN, Tennessee DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Florida
Bobby Vassar, Chief Counsel
Caroline Lynch, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
FEBRUARY 11, 2009
The Honorable Robert C. ``Bobby'' Scott, a Representative in
Congress from the State of Virginia, and Chairman, Subcommittee
on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security..................... 1
The Honorable Louie Gohmert, a Representative in Congress from
the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Crime,
Terrorism, and Homeland Security............................... 3
Ms. Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Founder, Mothers in Charge,
Oral Testimony................................................. 7
Prepared Statement............................................. 8
Dr. Barry Krisberg, Ph.D., President, National Council on Crime
and Delinquency, Oakland, CA
Oral Testimony................................................. 11
Prepared Statement............................................. 14
Mr. Steve Trubow, Head of Olympic Behavior Labs, Port Angeles, WA
Oral Testimony................................................. 31
Prepared Statement............................................. 33
Mr. Irving Bradley, Jr., Police Director, Trenton, NJ
Oral Testimony................................................. 70
Prepared Statement............................................. 73
Mr. Robert L. Woodson, Founder and President, Center for
Neighborhood Enterprise, Washington, DC
Oral Testimony................................................. 78
Prepared Statement............................................. 81
Dr. Beverly Coleman-Miller, M.D., Unity Consultant, Senior
Medical Consultant, Health Education Network, Washington, DC
Oral Testimony................................................. 92
Talking Points................................................. 94
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record........................ 109
YOUTH VIOLENCE: TRENDS, MYTHS,
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2009
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2 p.m., in
room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Hon. Robert C.
``Bobby'' Scott (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Scott, Jackson Lee, and Gohmert.
Also Present: Representative Smith.
Staff Present: Bobby Vassar, Najority Chief Counsel; Ameer
Gopalani, Majority Counsel; Mario Dispenza, (Fellow) ATF
Detailee; Karen Wilkinson, (Fellow) Federal Public Defense
Office Detailee; Veronica Eligan, Majority Professional Staff
Member; Kimani Little, Minority Counsel; and Kelsey Whitlock,
Minority Staff Assistant.
Mr. Scott. The Subcommittee will now come to order.
Good afternoon. I am pleased to welcome you here today for
the first hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security in the 111th Congress.
I wish to congratulate my colleague Judge Gohmert for
seeking and being elected to the position of Ranking Member of
And we are getting called to votes right now.
I would like to welcome all of the new Members to the
Subcommittee who will be joining us, hopefully, as the hearing
This hearing is a continuation of a series of hearings we
began in the 110th Congress on what we need to do to
effectively reduce youth crime and violence and gang
membership. What we have found, as you will hear from our
distinguished panel of witnesses today, is that the evidence is
overwhelming that properly targeted, evidence-based crime
prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youths will
greatly reduce crime and save much more money than they cost
and avoid criminal justice and social welfare expenditures that
otherwise would be spent.
One of the most comprehensive studies on the effectiveness
of proper targeting of scientifically proven prevention and
intervention programs for at-risk youths was conducted in the
State of Pennsylvania. The State invested $60 million to
conduct programs in 100 communities in urban, suburban, and
rural areas and identified comparable areas without the
programs in order to scientifically assess the results. The
study revealed that crime and negative social incidents went
down substantially in the test communities compared to the
comparable communities and that the average costs and losses
from crime and social welfare programs were reduced by an
average of $5 for every dollar spent on prevention and
In my home State of Virginia, Richmond city and Fairfax
County, both saw similar reductions after the similar
approaches in communities with substantial youth violence and
I will be reintroducing the ``Youth Prison Reduction
Through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and
Education Act,'' or the ``Youth PROMISE Act,'' this week, which
calls for an implementation of a similar approach in high-crime
Now, while we have to have adequate levels of law
enforcement to respond to violent and other serious crime, law
enforcement alone will not sufficiently reduce crime. Over the
last 25 to 30 years, we have been on a law enforcement and
incarceration binge, the likes of which the world has never
The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration
of any nation on earth: over 700 persons incarcerated for every
100,000; and the United States far exceeds the world average of
about 100 per 100,000, and is the only country known to lock up
over 1 percent of its adult population. Russia is the next
closest, at about 600 per 100,000. Every other major country
incarcerates at levels much below that, countries such as:
Great Britain, at 146; Australia, 126; Canada, 107; France, 85;
Mexico, 196; Japan, 62; India, 36; China, 118, all per 100,000;
United States, 700 per 100,000.
And the United States has some of the world's most severe
punishments for crime, including juveniles. For over 2,400
juveniles now certain serving sentences of life without parole
for crimes committed while they were juveniles, all 2,400 are
in the United States. Some were given their sentences as first-
time offenders under circumstances such as being a passenger in
a car from which there was a drive-by shooting.
Examples like this prove that we are already tough on
crime. All States have provisions which allow, if not require,
juveniles to be treated as adults for trial, sentencing, and
incarceration. Most juveniles treated as adults are convicted
for non-violent offenses. And, again, we are already locking up
more people than anywhere on earth.
Yet crime persists. While it is down from levels
experienced over a decade ago, there are reports of serious
crime in some areas, particularly among youth, despite the
focus on our law enforcement.
And the focus of all this tough-on-crime law enforcement
falls disproportionately on minorities, particularly Blacks and
Hispanics. Many studies have examined that, when compared to
similarly situated White children, minority children are
treated more harshly at every stage of juvenile and the
criminal justice system. I am concerned that policies such as
expanding the definition of ``gang'' and extending gang
databases will only make the problem worse, with no impact on
Without appropriate intervention, these children will be in
what the Children's Defense Fund has described as a cradle-to-
prison pipeline, where minority children are born on a
trajectory to prison. As the reams of evidence regarding
evidence-based prevention and intervention programs show, it is
entirely feasible to move children from a cradle-to-prison
pipeline to cradle-to-college or cradle-to-jobs pipeline.
Research and analysis shows, as well as common sense, that,
no matter how tough we are on crime on the children we
prosecute today, unless we are addressing the underlying
reasons for their developing into serious criminals, nothing
will change. The next crime wave will simply replace the ones
we take out, and crime continues. So getting tough on crime may
respond to crime, but it does not reduce the incidence of
All credible research and evidence shows that a continuum
of programs for youth identified as being at risk will save
much more money than they cost compared to not doing anything.
The Pennsylvania study convincingly establishes that these
programs are more effective when provided in the context of
coordinated, collaborative local strategy involving law
enforcement, education, social services, mental health,
nonprofit, faith-based and business sectors working together
with identified children at risk of involvement in the criminal
In the face of all this evidence, it is curious that we
have continued to rely on the so-called ``get tough'' approach.
Today's hearing will focus on studies, one by Professor James
Fox and his colleague at the Northeastern University,
reflecting an increase in murder and other serious crime in
some minority communities. The study challenges us to do more
than the usual response of simply cracking down with law
enforcement and draconian penalties.
Our witnesses today will address this challenge. And it is
my fervent hope that the testimony and evidence that this
Subcommittee will receive today will refocus our attention from
sound-byte policies to effective legislation. I am looking
forward to my colleagues in adopting proven strategies to
It is now my pleasure to recognize the esteemed Ranking
Member of this Subcommittee, the gentleman from Texas, Judge
Mr. Gohmert. Thank you, Chairman Scott.
This is the first hearing of the Crime Subcommittee this
Congress, obviously. I would like to welcome our newest Members
to the Subcommittee. Judge Ted Poe of Texas will serve as
distinguished deputy Ranking Member. Congressman Bob Goodlatte
of Virginia, who is a senior Member of the full Judiciary
Committee, joins the Subcommittee. And Congressman Tom Rooney
of Florida will serve the Subcommittee and Congress with
distinction, I know. I look forward to working with the three
new Republicans and our new colleagues across the aisle, as
And although some of our colleagues on other Subcommittees
may not admit it, the Crime Subcommittee is traditionally the
busiest Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. We meet often
because Congress has an important role to play in developing
policy and legislation regarding the criminal justice system
and the fight to defeat terrorism, as well as the effort to
keep the homeland secure.
Youth violence is one of the most challenging issues facing
our Nation. Although we have done much to reduce the overall
level of violent crime across the country, violence among
youth, either as individuals or as members of organized
criminal gangs, has been a difficult problem.
Today's hearing on youth violence is certainly timely. I
thank the Chairman for having this hearing.
As many of you know, James Fox, a criminology professor at
Northeastern University, recently published a study and found a
nationwide surge in gun-related homicides involving young,
Black males. Specifically, the study found that the homicide
victimization rate for Black males aged 14 to 17 increased
nationwide from 2002 to 2007 by 31 percent. The number of Black
male juveniles accused of murder rose by 43 percent over the
same time period. Paradoxically, the study covered a time when
the Nation saw an overall decrease in violent crime, including
a 1.3 percent decline in murders in 2007.
The Fox study stated the cuts in Federal support for
policing and youth violence prevention may be partly
responsible for the resurgence in homicide, especially among
minority youth. In the study, Professor Fox urges increases of
Federal funding for crime prevention, crime control, and, in
particular, the COPS program and juvenile justice initiatives.
The study predictably gained a good deal of media
attention, especially in the cities and areas highlighted in
the report. Along with this media attention came some criticism
that the study misrepresents trends in murder rates among
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a
January hearing, Dr. David Muhlhausen of the respected Heritage
Foundation wrote that the surge described by Professor Fox and
his research team was overstated. Dr. Muhlhausen wrote that, to
put this surge in proper perspective, policymakers need to
understand that the years used in this comparison were selected
for their dramatic effect. Muhlhausen wrote that it was
necessary to view the violent crime rate over a longer period
to obtain a balanced perspective on homicide rates of young
Dr. Muhlhausen advocated an approach where violent crime
trends were followed over a 30-year period, about a generation,
from 1976 to 2007. Taking this longer view, he notes that the
2007 level of Black homicide victimizations, the year which was
the high point of the 7-year period studied by Professor Fox,
is dramatically lower than the 1993 level.
Further, Dr. Muhlhausen noted that the homicide
victimization rate of 14- to 17-year-old Black males decreased
by almost 60 percent from 1993 to 2007, a decrease from 47
homicides per 100,000 in 1993 to 19 homicides per 100,000 in
We all acknowledge one homicide is too many, and we should
work to prevent them.
Dr. Muhlhausen also noted that the upward trend in Black
homicide victimization rates for the periods studied by
Professor Fox did not hold for older males. From 2002 to 2007,
the homicide victimization rates of Black males aged 18 to 24
and 25 and older decreased by 2.5 percent and 1.4 percent
I recite these statistics not to make light of the Fox
study at all, but I do want to inject some perspective into the
discussion that we will have today. I think that it is
important to note that most indicators demonstrate that America
is overall a much safer place than it was 15 years ago. Studies
by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics
indicate that, since 1994, the national rate for violent crime,
including robbery, sexual assault, and murder, decreased
nationally, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2005.
Further, the most recent published FBI Uniform Crime
Report, or UCR, indicates a continued decrease in the rate of
violent crimes nationally. Paradoxically, the UCR also showed
the rate of violent crime increased in smaller cities,
including Austin and San Antonio in my home State. There is
also this unsettling increase in youth crime. These are the
anomalies that I would like to hear further discussed.
Further, I hope that the discussion involves more than
merely advocating more Federal funding for State and local law
enforcement. In the last 10 years, Congress committed
significant resources to programs like the Byrne JAG program
and COPS office at the Department of Justice. Since 1999, Byrne
JAG grants have totaled more than $8.4 billion in funding. And,
in the last 10 fiscal years, the COPS program has awarded more
than $7.49 billion to over 13,000 law enforcement agencies.
Although much of this money has gone to good use, there are
a number of studies and IG reports that indicate some cities
and localities have misused the funds by not complying with
grant conditions. Other studies have shown that Federal funding
has not led to an increase in the overall spending by local law
enforcement but merely replaced State and local funding for
police and law enforcement agencies.
The so-called economic stimulus passed by the House
includes $4 billion in local law enforcement spending, and the
Senate bill reportedly contains $3.5 billion for that purpose.
Nonetheless, I am concerned that overall funding in both bills
represent an irresponsible increase in Federal spending of
money we do not have, and that will so overwhelmingly overload
the coming generations with debt they will be prevented from
ever getting to enjoy the American dream of economic freedom.
Rather than this huge increase in Federal funding, we
should support grassroots organizations and community groups,
including faith-based groups, who are motivated by love and
care rather than Federal money.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses. I
am especially interested in the testimony of the witnesses who
represent community groups and faith-based organizations, who
will testify from their perspective. I believe the Members of
the Subcommittee will benefit from the expertise and
recommendations for those best practices.
I yield back the time.
Mr. Scott. The Subcommittee will now go into recess. We
will return as soon as this series of votes is over.
Mr. Scott. If our witnesses would come forward.
Judge Gohmert will be back momentarily. Let me introduce
the witnesses as we are waiting for Judge Gohmert.
Our first witness will be Dr. Barry Krisberg, president of
the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the oldest
criminal justice research organization in America. He is
nationally known for his research and expertise on juvenile
justice issues. Before joining NCCD, he was a faculty member at
the University of California at Berkeley and an adjunct
professor at the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Political Affairs
at the University of Minnesota. He has a master's degree in
criminology and a doctorate in sociology from the University of
Our next witness will be Ms. Dorothy Johnson-Speight, who
is the founder of Mothers in Charge, a Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, organization devoted to youth violence prevention
through education and intervention. She is also the founder of
the first African-American chapter of Compassionate Friends, a
national self-help organization which assists families in the
positive resolution of grief following the death of a child.
She has a master's degree from Lincoln University and has
worked toward her doctorate at Union Institute.
The third witness will be Mr. Steven Trubow, head of
Olympic Behavior Labs, which produces software to predict and
prevent youth violence and gang activity. He has developed and
implemented the Dropout Early Warning System, a software
program that identifies students who are most likely to commit
violence and to drop out of school, enabling parents and
educators to concentrate prevention efforts on these vulnerable
youth. He has a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University
and a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin.
The fourth witness will be Irving Bradley, Jr., director of
police for Trenton, New Jersey, Department of Police. Before
his tenure as director, he served as a police officer for the
city of Newark, New Jersey, from 1986 through 2004, then served
as Newark's chief of police. Director Bradley is the first and
only African-American chief of police in Newark's 342-year
history and is a graduate of Shaw University.
Our fifth witness is Robert Woodson, founder and president
of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a research and
demonstration organization that supports neighborhood-based
initiatives to reduce crime and violence. For more than 3
decades, he has focused much of the organization's activities
on an initiative to establish violence-free zones in trouble
spots throughout the Nation. He received a bachelor's degree
from Cheyney University and a master's degree from the
University of Pennsylvania.
Our final witness will be Dr. Beverly Coleman-Miller, who
is here on behalf of the Urban Networks to Increase Thriving
Youth, or UNITY. She is also a senior medical consultant to
Health Education Network, an internationally known expert on
youth violence. Dr. Coleman-Miller has a bachelor's degree from
the University of Pennsylvania and an M.D. Degree from Temple
University School of Medicine.
We will now proceed with our testimony. And I understand
Ms. Speight has a train which would--if there is no objection,
we would allow her to testify first and ask her questions, if
there are any, and then she can try to make her train.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. Without objection.
TESTIMONY OF DOROTHY JOHNSON-SPEIGHT, FOUNDER, MOTHERS IN
CHARGE, PHILADELPHIA, PEA
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Good afternoon. I am Dorothy Johnson-
Speight, founder and executive director of Mothers in Charge. I
am also mother to Khaaliq Jabbar Johnson, who, at 24, in
December 2001, was shot seven times over a parking space. I
wanted to do something with my anger and my tears and my pain
and everything I felt as a result of his murder. Mothers in
Charge was formed.
Mothers in Charge is an organization comprised of mothers,
grandmothers, aunts, and sisters, most of whom have lost a son,
a daughter, or a loved one to violence. We provide support
services to individuals and families affected by violence.
However, in addition to the grief and victim support
programs, we focus a large amount of our efforts on violence
prevention and intervention programs for children and families,
along with other various community support services.
These services include, but are not limited to, a mentoring
program with juvenile offenders incarcerated at the
Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, which is an adult
facility housing sometimes over 160 juveniles that have been
court adjudicated as adults because of the type of crime they
have committed; also, a reading program for youth at risk to
increase their reading and academic skills; and a female rights
of passage program to encourage healthy relationships, self-
esteem, and self-respect for young females.
Mothers in Charge also provides countless violence
prevention workshops and seminars throughout the school
district and city of Philadelphia and surrounding areas.
There is a culture of violence among our youth, with the
violent movies and video games, games that give points for the
best shot, and the music that promotes using a handgun to
handle conflict and frustration. Our youth are bombarded with a
message of violence on a daily basis.
In Pennsylvania, a 16-year-old can get his hand on an
illegal handgun before he can a textbook. There is something
seriously wrong with that picture. This is mainly due to lax
gun laws that allow store purchasers to walk in gun stores in
Pennsylvania and purchase handguns in about 40 minutes, with no
waiting period, no fingerprinting. Oftentimes those guns end up
in the hands of our youth. While this issue is not about the
responsible gun owner, it is about illegal guns that are
killing our youth and destroying communities.
We believe in community involvement for change. Our
communities feel that government needs to play a role in
helping grassroots organizations with concrete and immediate
legislation, more funding, support of grassroots organizing,
and citizen action. With this support, a measurable reduction
in crime would be visible. Whether it is Columbine or on the
streets of north Philadelphia, we must save our most precious
gift from God, our children.
I would like to share a recent documentary that we filmed
as a message to young people. This was done in the prison here
in Philadelphia, and it is our way of getting a message to
young people to let them know that violence not the answer. You
also will see a few mothers sharing their stories of living
with the pain of losing a child to violence.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Turning the tide on violence's path to
the grave or to the penal system is our responsibility to
future generations. And it has to be a current local and
national priority of our great Nation, starting with addressing
our hurt, angry, and at-risk youth.
Mothers in Charge, working for positive change in our
communities over the last 5 years, is an example of what can
happen when we make a commitment to make a difference. I know
we could do so much more to save lives if we had committed
partners in the schools, communities, and government.
I applaud the courageous women of Mothers in Charge for
their efforts. They work every day on the front lines to make a
difference with the violence in our communities. This spring,
we bring another message, our first book, entitled, ``Mothers
in Charge: Faces of Courage.''
A friend asked, should there be a book telling the stories
of how mothers and fathers, just like some of you, have lost
their dreams for the future, how their children were
senselessly murdered? Yes, these stories are important, because
we want you to know and understand this. We want you to know
how these courageous women have turned their pain into a
campaign for peace in Philadelphia, Norristown, and Chester,
Pennsylvania; New Jersey; and Brooklyn, New York. We hope this
collection of inspirational stories will be read by each one of
you and will move you to do something, anything you can to save
I am going to present this to the Chairman. It is a rough
copy of what is going to come out in the spring of 2009. But
this is for you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Johnson-Speight follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dorothy Johnson-Speight
My name is Dorothy Johnson-Speight and I am Founder and Executive
Director of Mothers In Charge (MIC). MIC is an organization comprised
of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters, most of whom have lost a
son, daughter or loved one to violence. We provide support services to
individuals and families affected by violence.
However in addition to the grief and victims support programs, we
focus a large amount of our efforts on violence prevention and
intervention programs for children and families, along with other
various community support services. These services include but are not
limited to a mentoring program with juveniles offenders incarcerated at
the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (PICC) which is an
adult facility housing sometimes over 160 juveniles that have been
court adjudicated as adults because of the type of crime committed, a
reading program for youth at risk to increase their reading and
academic skills and a female Rites of Passages program to encourage
healthy relationships, self esteem and self respect for young females.
Mothers In Charge also provides countless violence prevention workshops
and seminars throughout the school district and the city of
Philadelphia and surrounding areas.
There is a CULTURE OF VIOLENCE AMONG OUR YOUTH. With the violent
movies and violent video games that gives points for the best shot and
the music that promotes using a handgun to settle conflict or handle
frustration, our youth are bombarded with messages of violence on a
daily basis. In Pennsylvania, a 16 year old can get his hands on an
illegal handgun before he can a text book. There is something seriously
wrong with that picture. This is mainly due to lax gun laws that allow
straw purchasers to walk into gun stores in PA and purchase handguns in
about 40 minutes with no waiting period, and no fingerprinting often
times, those guns end up in the hands of our youth. While this issue is
not about the responsible gun owner, it is about illegal guns that are
killing our youth and destroying communities. Please know that no one
is safe until we are all safe.
We believe in community involvement for change. Our communities
feels the government needs to play a role in helping grass roots
community organizations with concrete and immediate legislation , more
funding, support of grass roots organizing, and citizen action, with
this support a measurable reduction in crime would be visible. Whether
it's Columbine, or on the streets of North Philly, we must save our
most precious gift from God, our children. I would like to share a
recent documentary we've done. This is a condensed piece of our message
to the youth. We must do more, we must send a powerful message to our
youth that violence is not the answer.
Turning the tide on violence's path to the grave or the penal
system is our responsibility to future generations and it has to be a
current local and national priority of our great nation starting with
addressing our hurt, angry, and at risk youth.
Mothers in Charge, working for positive change in our communities,
is an example of what can happen when we all make a commitment to make
a difference. I know we could do so much more to save lives if we had
committed partners in the schools, communities, and government. I
applaud the courageous women of Mothers In Charge for their efforts
This spring we bring another message, our first book entitled
Mothers In Charge ``Faces Of Courage''. A friend asked should there be
a book telling the stories of how mothers and some fathers just like
you, who have lost their dreams for the future, how their children were
senselessly murdered. Yes, these stories are important because we want
you to also know and understand this; we want you to know how these
courageous women have turned their pain into a campaign for peace in
Philadelphia, Norristown and Chester PA, New Jersey and Brooklyn, NY.
We hope this collection of inspirational stories will be read by each
one of you and it will move you to do something, anything you can to
save a life.
Mr. Scott. And, without objection, that will be added to
the record of the hearing.
Mr. Gohmert. She wants you to have it.
Mr. Scott. Well, it will be part of the record; I will get
Thank you. I know you have a train; I hope you can catch
Did you have questions, Judge Gohmert?
Mr. Gohmert. I don't want to delay her from missing her
Ms. Johnson-Speight. That is okay. I have time, I think.
Mr. Gohmert. We do appreciate you coming. And you are proof
of the resiliency and how people can go to work and make
something good and work something absolutely horrible for a
good. And for that we thank you, we appreciate you. And,
obviously, you have made a difference in many lives. It is
people like you really caring that do make that difference. So
thank you very much, not just for coming, but more especially
for all you have been doing to help your neighborhood.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know the witness has
to catch a train. Let me just add my thanks, as well, for both
your testimony and for making the effort to be here today.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Thank you.
Mr. Smith. And I yield back.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
And I would like to add my voice to the thanks for being
here. It reminds us of how hard we need to work to reduce the
incidence of this situation happening. Once it happens, of
course, you can help those victims through that process. But we
are going to try to do the best we can, in addition to that, to
reduce the number of families subjected to that tragedy.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. I thank you for that.
Mr. Scott. So thank you very much.
Mr. Gohmert. Might I point out one thing, Chairman?
I think it is also proof that the love that you had for
your son and the love for the people that you live around is
stronger than the hate that killed your son. And for that,
thank you very much.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Absolutely. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. The gentlelady from Texas?
Ms. Jackson Lee. I understand there is a time constraint,
so let me add my appreciation and indicate my delay was because
I was in other meetings.
But I think the key element of what you expressed today
should be the mantra for this Congress and certainly for, I
believe, this Administration--not speaking for them, but
knowing the kind of leadership that has been placed at the
Department of Justice, working with a Congress that, you have
heard from both sides of the aisle, is sensitive to
intervention and redemption and rehabilitation. And that is
what you have expressed.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Absolutely.
Ms. Jackson Lee. And the sacrifice that you have made in
the name of your son to do that is the road map that we hope to
be able to follow.
So let me yield back, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you very much--I want to make sure I am
pronouncing it correctly, is it ``Speight''?
Ms. Johnson-Speight. ``Speight.''
Ms. Jackson Lee. ``Speight.'' So, Ms. Dorothy Johnson-
Speight, thank you so very much for your leadership.
Ms. Johnson-Speight. Thank you.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I yield back.
Mr. Scott. As she leaves, we will resume the testimony,
starting with Dr. Krisberg.
I forgot to explain what those lighting devices are on the
table. We try to keep the testimony to 5 minutes. After 4
minutes, a yellow light will come on. And when the red light
comes on, try to keep it as brief as possible after that.
TESTIMONY OF BARRY KRISBERG, Ph.D., PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL
ON CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, OAKLAND, CA
Mr. Krisberg. Thank you very much, Chairman Scott. I
appreciate very much the opportunity to address the
When James Fox's study came out and was broadly
disseminated by the press, this certainly caught a lot of us--
caught our attention and suggested that we needed to look at
the data he was putting forth and what the implications are.
My intention today is not to get into a statistical
discussion of the data, although, certainly, that is worth
having at some point. What we wanted to do--and, actually, this
project has been ongoing for about 9 months--is to take a look
at these youth who are committing those violent crimes. And so,
with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we went into
three cities across the country--Washington, DC; Dallas, Texas;
and San Mateo County, California, which includes some very
high-crime areas, including East Palo Alto, Redwood City, and
And, in the course of that study, we did three things.
First of all, we looked at the media coverage of youth violence
in those cities, and the patterns were remarkably similar. We
also talked to dozens of criminal justice professionals--
police, prosecutors, public defenders, judges--to get their
perspective on what they thought was going on. And I think most
significantly and what I would like to talk about the most, we
conducted in-depth interviews with 24 youth who were
incarcerated in those counties, most of them for very violent
crimes, mostly gun-involved. And we wanted to find out from the
youth themselves, and the fundamental question we were asking
was, who are they?
Now, a decade ago, in this very room, witnesses came before
this Committee and talked about the ``super predator.'' One
judge referred to the ``hoards from hell'' that are overcoming
our cities. Penn Professor John DiIulio talked about
``fatherless, jobless, godless'' young people who have overrun
our cities. And because of this rhetoric, a lot of laws were
passed, a lot of legislation came into being, much of which we
now realize was badly conceived of, and we are now just trying
to dig out from under this.
Despite these enormous claims that our cities were going to
be overwhelmed by the super predators, most of which were youth
of color, for the next 12 years in a row juvenile crime rates
went down, juvenile violence has been going down. So, for some
reason, the super predators decided to do something else.
Having said that, though, if you fast-forward to the media
today, we are seeing the same thing, language like ``kids who
kill with no conscience,'' ``domestic terrorists.'' So, once
again, the media is creating an image in the public's mind of
who these youth are, and I think this image is dangerous.
What we found in these three cities, just specifically on
the media, it is pretty interesting. These are three cities
that overall have reflected a downward turn in juvenile crime
and juvenile violence over the last decade. But the media
consistently, we found, reported increases in crime, if they
were short-term, never reported decreases in crime.
The second thing the media consistently attributed to youth
most of the violence problem. In all of these cities, most
violence is conducted by young adults. Youth account for a
small percentage of the violent crime in these cities. Yet, if
you read the local newspapers, you would think youth account
for all of it.
And the final issue is that, very often, the media offers
no context. They don't do a good job of answering the ``why''
questions. And when we talked to the practitioners in these
cities, they indicated that this information being put out to
the public made their jobs tougher, and that they wanted a
situation in which there was more accurate, timely information.
And I will get back to that later on.
But let me move to the kids. First and foremost, I want to
report to you: These are not monsters. These are young people
who have made, as Ms. Speight eloquently said, who made some
bad choices, ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong
time. And I want to remind you that, as adolescents, that is
what adolescents do, they make bad choices. And hopefully we
can figure out how to help them recover from those choices.
We sat in detention centers and juvenile facilities, and
these young people were respectful, funny, open and candid with
us about their lives. And what did they tell us? They told us
that they, by and large, had come from chaotic home lives,
dominated by substance abuse, violent or absent parents;
multiple residence changes; parents in prisons and jails. And
they emphasized that their lives had been filled with these
very difficult family situations. Not every case, but
overwhelmingly that is what they told us.
They also told us that, by and large, their life was more
defined by the streets, and that there weren't a lot of options
in their communities that were positive, so they ended up being
drawn into the street culture of guns and violence and drugs
because it was there. And, again, they were looking for
options, but they didn't find too many.
The juvenile justice system, interestingly most of them saw
their temporary incarceration as a brief moment of respite and
even safety compared to the lives they lived. But my issue is,
can't the society protect vulnerable children other than behind
razor wire? It seems like we ought to be able to figure this
out. And, in some ways, it is a tragic judgment that juvenile
hall is a safe place to be. And, in fact, we know it isn't a
safe place to be, but for these young people it is better than
where they were before.
Schools they found, by and large, unhelpful. I mean, these
were the young people that Congressman Scott talked about, who
get booted out, expelled, run up against zero-tolerance rules,
and so get propelled out into the streets. And, essentially,
they were urging us to tell you that these are the issues,
these family problems, the lack of support, and hoping that
something could be done about it.
And, by the way, the criminal justice professionals agreed
with them almost entirely, that the youth were stating the
right causes. Certainly they said, and I would agree, that law
enforcement has a role to play, but none of the people we
talked to in the criminal justice system felt that the police
by themselves could solve this problem, and emphasized
prevention and early intervention.
Now, if I can just move into some recommendations which I
think this Committee should consider.
Mr. Scott. If you can make them as quick as you could.
Mr. Krisberg. Sure.
I think it is critically important that the Office of
Juvenile Justice return to being a source of accurate and
timely information about crime. The media needs to go someplace
and get fair and honest information, and the Office of Juvenile
Justice used to play that role; hasn't done so good in recent
years. They should also consider media training, actually
bringing people in and helping the media understand juvenile
crime and juvenile justice.
In terms of the other kinds of issues, I think from a
priority point of view--and I am a big fan of the ``Youth
PROMISE Act''--we need to put money into helping vulnerable
families overcome their challenges and be better parents. Kids
run away from programs to go back to their abusive parents; it
is a fact. So, I mean, we can bury our heads in the sand, but
we have to do something about it.
The other thing I will just end with is we have to provide
some support for police and probation officers, better training
of dealing with juveniles. There is virtually no curriculum in
this country helping police officers or, for that matter, even
probation people to really know what to do with troubled kids.
They are trying to do the best they can, but if you put law
enforcement officers out on the street, dealing with kids who
have gone through these experiences, without any tools, we
don't expect they are going to succeed.
Anyway, thank you very much, and I look forward to your
[The prepared statement of Mr. Krisberg follows:]
Prepared Statement of Barry Krisberg
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Dr. Krisberg.
TESTIMONY OF STEVE TRUBOW, HEAD OF OLYMPIC BEHAVIOR LABS, PORT
Mr. Trubow. First, I would like to thank Chairman Scott and
the Subcommittee for letting me come from Seattle, Washington,
to testify today.
Olympic Behavior Labs and its partners--Microsoft
Corporation, the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson
University, Sypherlink, and Choice Solutions--has developed and
implemented 13 dropout early warning systems in South Carolina,
Mississippi, and Alaska. And those systems are up and running
today. And they give us the opportunity to identify children--
kindergarten, first grade, second grade--who are most at risk
for dropout, truancy, gangs, and violence.
My remarks today are really focused on school dropout,
gangs, and youth violence.
Solutions for gang violence and dropout prevention require
persistent, systematic, and automated predictive risk
assessment to target the most effective gang prevention
programs. In the 2009 National Gang Assessment, the FBI counted
1 million street gang members in 2008. That represents a 25
percent increase of 250,000 new gang members since 2005.
Gang members are increasingly migrating from urban to
suburban areas and are responsible for the escalating rate of
crimes and violence in those communities, to include violence
at public schools. The North Carolina Department of Public
Instruction reported in December 2008 that 64 percent of high
schools in North Carolina have a gang presence in their
It is evident that we cannot take every gang member off the
street. Intervene with multidimensional therapies to normalize
each gang member's criminal and violent lifestyles. Or prevent
school children from joining gangs with the 7-hour GREAT
seminar. GREAT is ``Gang Resistance Education and Training.''
If the premise of prevention science is to stop a behavior
before it happens, the indicators that predict the behavior
must be persistently and comprehensibly assessed, analyzed, and
addressed with interventions to mitigate the probability of
risk. In other words, if you want to stop violence and gangs
from happening, you have to get to the root causes, and you
have to do interventions at a young enough age to stop it.
When we try to prevent cancer, we don't wait until someone
has cancer; we do it before. But when we talk about gang
prevention, we wait until the kids are already in gangs to do
prevention. So we have to do risk assessment.
And this is documented. It is research-based. It was
pioneered by Dr. Buddy Howell, David Hawkins, and Richard
Catalano in the 1990's. We know that it works. We know how to
predict which children are going to get involved in gangs and
Among the major educational problems in the United States,
the disproportionate educational opportunities for minority and
economically disadvantaged children is a key critical issue,
likely to grow even greater if prevention and corrective
actions are not implemented immediately.
This issue is well-documented as an alarming trend across
the Nation and has many negative effects on society. It is best
illustrated by the disproportionate levels of unemployment and
incarceration for Black and White high school dropouts, as well
as the large increase in the number minority street gang
members, and responsible for raising the level of youth
violence and substance abuse.
The root causes behind this critical problem are the strong
relationship that exists between school-related risk factors,
such as the lack of school readiness for minority youth and the
minority achievement gap, truancy, school dropout, and dramatic
increases in youth violence.
Again, this relationship is in every State and every
community across the Nation, with the highest concentrations in
urban areas and Indian reservations.
All children, and particularly minority and economically
disadvantaged children, must be given equal access to equitable
educational opportunities if they are to be productive
participants in our global economy. Otherwise, our society will
continue to suffer with exaggerated costs derived from
nonproductive incarceration, and our children will be caught in
a cycle of disengagement.
A dropout early warning system that utilizes evidence-
based, school-related risk or protective factors is essential
to determining which individual students are most likely to
join gangs or participate in other dangerous and destructive
activities leading to school disengagement and ultimately
The research base and developmental framework for dropout
early warning systems incorporates many National standards,
including No Child Left Behind, the Office of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention comprehensive gang prevention model,
and the IES Practice Guide for Dropout Prevention published by
the U.S. Department of Education.
This framework also addresses No Child Left Behind
limitations for monitoring systemic school-wide weaknesses and
more accurately determines a school's 4-year cohort graduation
Local action teams, very similar to the ``Youth PROMISE
Act,'' consisting of school and community stakeholders, can use
the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
comprehension gang prevention model with interagency
collaboration and a common data-sharing model as a response to
local barriers of implementation and isolated data silos to
develop the most effective evidence-based, best-practice model
programs for prevention and intervention strategies for
truancy, dropout, gangs, and violence.
Model programs' best-practice strategies are used to reduce
risk factors and increase protective factors for kids. This
system includes a case management Web portal with risk
assessment and evaluation for the effectiveness of prevention
programming and interventions.
Thank you again for giving me the time to present.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Trubow follows:]
Prepared Statement of Steven Trubow
Mr. Scott. Thank you very much, Mr. Trubow.
I just wanted to point out that we have been joined in the
auditorium--we don't usually recognize people in the audience,
but Lee Baca, the sheriff of Los Angeles County, is with us
today. We had a discussion earlier today on many of these
issues, and he is very supportive of what we are trying to get
Thank you, Sheriff Baca, for being with us today.
TESTIMONY OF IRVING BRADLEY, JR., POLICE DIRECTOR, TRENTON, NJ
Chief Bradley. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, thank you for inviting
me to testify today.
My name is Irving Bradley, Jr. I have been in law
enforcement for 23 years and recently became director of police
for the city of Trenton, New Jersey; formerly chief of police
for the city of Newark, the largest city in New Jersey.
I am a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nationwide
bipartisan group of chiefs, prosecutors, sheriffs, and victims
of violence dedicated to examining the research on what brings
kids in contact with the criminal justice system and the most
effective ways to direct them toward lives of safety,
responsibility, and positive achievement.
There is no single solution to crime, as we are all going
to find out today. The great challenge of policing is to
identify a mix of proven prevention and enforcement strategies
and tactics that work to make our communities safer.
As first responders to emergencies 24/7, police officers
see all the tragedies that occur on the streets and even in the
homes. From our experience, law enforcement leaders know that
they need to target at-risk youth and the environment that
produces them if they are to forge an effective crime reduction
I always tell people all the time, people who look at law
enforcement always seem to get negative connotations of what we
do on the street. The media and television show that we always
arrest people and chase them down. But, as we know as law
enforcement people, 80 percent of our job is social work.
Twenty percent is what you see on television. In that regard,
we look for unique programs to channel a lot of that social
work ability that we do have into a program that we started in
Trenton called YouthStat.
My police department, like thousands across the country,
have embraced community problem solving as a service delivery
model. This means we try to deal with recurring problems
proactively and in partnership with the community, which is
very important. To that end, we have created this program
caught YouthStat. YouthStat is a weekly process to examine
criminally adjudicated youth offenders in the greater Trenton
area. Working in collaboration with city, county, and State
programming agencies, participating members of YouthStat work
to apply a mix of preventive programs and interventions for
Taking a more holistic approach and assessing the needs of
these youth on an individual basis can prove to be extremely
successful. For example, we had a kid, Kamir, 15 years of age,
whose behavior included minor criminal offenses, chronic
truancy, and has improved his behavior immensely and is now
attending high school regularly--a remarkable change from his
past. Usually we find a lot of our African-American males never
make it to 10th grade. This is a kid that got in the program
and actually is doing well.
Another young lady, Delores, 18 years of age, a victim of
an unstable home environment, chronic truancy, adjudicated
delinquent, has similarly improved her behavior substantially,
successfully graduated from high school, is now fully employed
and being a positive influence in the community.
Other programs that we are aware of: Home visiting programs
offer frequent, voluntary home visits by trained individuals to
help new parents get the information, skills, and support they
need to raise healthy families and safe kids. The Nurse-Family
Partnership, NFP, has been shown to cut at-risk kids' child
abuse and neglect in half and reduce their later arrests by
about 60 percent, saving $5 for every dollar invested.
A study of one model, which I happened to be a participant
in as a kid, Head Start, found that low-income, at-risk kids
who did not attend the program were five times more likely to
become chronic law breakers by age 27. This program saved more
than $16 for every $1 invested. And, as I said before, I was a
product of Head Start, and I am here sitting before you today.
So it is goes to show you the importance of getting kids at an
early age in a structured program.
A study of The Incredible Years, a comprehensive program
for young children with emotional and behavioral problems,
found that 95 percent of participating children experience
significant reductions in problematic behavior.
The Good Behavior Game is a classroom approach that is
simple and can be used for young children or teenagers and
produces long-term results, including a 50 percent lower
dependence on drugs.
High-quality after-school programs, which really right now
is missing in a lot of our urban sectors, gives our kids the
opportunity to participate in the program from 3 to 6 p.m. I am
pretty sure everybody up there participated in an after-school
program and became very effective.
A study found that housing projects without Boys and Girls
Clubs had 50 percent more vandalism and scored 37 percent worse
on drug activity. If we don't provide latch-key kids with
structure, protection, and a sense of belonging, the local
gangs will fill the gap, as we see today. And once our kids
join the gang, it is tough to get them out.
Quality mentoring program, a program we started at Trenton
Police. A study of Big Brothers and Big Sisters found that
young people assigned to a mentor were about half as likely to
begin illegal drug use and literally one-third less likely to
hit someone compared to those on a waiting list. My police
department is so committed to mentoring that a number of our
officers, 16 as we stand right now, have all become mentors for
our local at-risk youth. And we are going to expand that. And I
am also a mentor also.
But is there anything proven to work once kids start
committing offenses? Yes. Functional Family Therapy cuts
juvenile recidivism in half and saves the public an average of
$32,000 per youth treated. It doesn't surprise me that such
therapeutic approaches of delinquent youth can be so effective
since studies of incarcerated youth reveal that as many as 70
percent suffer from disabling conditions.
I have had cases where young people have intentionally
violated their parole or have done something to get locked back
up. I just found that out just interviewing kids. They just
want to go back because they can't cope. We have to break that
Multidimensional treatment foster care can cut the average
number of repeat arrests for serious delinquent juveniles in
half and save the public an average of over $77,000 for every
This is why we support Chairman Scott's ``Youth PROMISE
Act.'' This legislation will provide resources to communities
to develop and implement plans, specific to the needs and
strengths of the community, that utilize evidence-based
prevention and intervention approaches like those I have
Kids in tough cities, which I have grown up in in Newark,
have tough decisions to make, and we have to provide them
alternatives to gangs, drugs, and life on the streets. Having
been an at-risk kid who spent time in foster care, someone who
has been a beneficiary of Head Start, a Boys Club recreation
program, and mentoring by caring adults in my community, I am a
living, breathing example of what these programs can help
Thank you for this opportunity to testify, and I will be
more than glad to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Chief Bradley follows:]
Prepared Statement of Irving Bradley, Jr.
Mr. Scott. Thank you. And tell Mayor Palmer that you did a
Chief Bradley. Oh, thank you.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Woodson?
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT L. WOODSON, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, CENTER
FOR NEIGHBORHOOD ENTERPRISE, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. Woodson. Thank you. I am Bob Woodson, president of the
Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, an organization I started
28 years ago. And the center is dedicated to assisting low-
income leaders in 39 States. We have trained over 2,000
grassroots leaders in intervention.
Most of my experience has been in reducing youth violence.
It is fair to say and evidence proves that conventional
approaches to reducing violent youth has not worked, and that
is an increase in cops, cameras. And therapeutic interventions
just have not worked for the number of kids who are in crisis
today. Our model, called the Violence-Free Zone, is based on
the premise that young people are more influenced by their
peers than they are from adults who are outside that community.
The Secret Service commissioned a study that went around
and asked about 38 youth killers to find out if there was a
common profile. They found there was no common profile, but
what they had in common was that they told a friend what they
were going to do prior to doing it. And yet we don't have a way
of tuning into the cultural ZIP code of these kids. Well, we
have found that, when you began to reach in and empower peers,
young adults who have similar experiences and have risen above
those experiences, that they are powerful leaders.
And most of what we have learned is from your colleague,
Chaka Fattah. My hometown of Philadelphia used to be known as
the youth gang capital of America--48 gang deaths per year. But
Sister Fattah and David took into their home, with Chaka, 15
gang members. And they moved out all the furniture, and the
House of Umoja was born. They made national headlines because,
3 years later, they reached out to warring gang members from
around the city of Philadelphia. And as a consequence of their
unorthodox approach, there was a truce signed throughout the
city, and youth gang violence went down from 48 to 2 in 2
Well, what I did was study what they did and how they did
it, and I wrote book called ``A Summons To Life.'' The
approaches that they took were tested in 1983 in the city of
Philadelphia where young groups of Blacks were attacking
shoppers on the subways, in the buses, throwing people down,
ripping off chains. Police increased patrols; that didn't work.
We went to Sister Fattah. They took the unorthodox step of
recruiting four OGs, or ``old gangsters'' they call them. They
went to the house of correction, the jails, signed up 135
inmates into a crime prevention task force. They sent forth 200
young people who were brought to the prisons. And as a
consequence of going and cultivating this indigenous
leadership, the wolf pack attacks stopped over night.
And so, what we did at the center is it now equipped me to
go around the country and look for leaders like Sister Fattah
and her husband, and we found them in Washington, DC, and we
trained them on this intervention model. And there was an area
of Washington, DC, called Benning Terrace, public housing, five
square blocks, where there were 53 murders in a five-square-
block area in 2 years.
Eric Holder, now the Attorney General, was a U.S. attorney
at the time, and he and the police were afraid to go into this
area. And what we did was, after the death of a 12-year-old,
Darryl Hall, we trained some grassroots leaders that had the
trust and confidence of the young men. We went into that area,
identified leaders of the Avenue and the Circle factions and
brought 16 of them to my office downtown, and we negotiated a
truce. And these young men went back and used their
considerable leadership to influence the rest of the community.
And now this is our 12th year without a gang-related murder
in Benning Terrace. And these two young men are sitting here,
who used to be shooting at one another, Derrick Ross and Wayne
Lee. And now they have been working and playing a constructive
What we did then was take these experiences and we
established the Violence-Free Zone. We went throughout the city
and around the country and identified grassroots leaders that
have the influence of the kids and the respect. And we have
applied this Violence-Free Zone going to 30 schools in six
cities. And one of them is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where this
program has been embraced. We are in eight schools. And a
Baylor University study recently revealed that violence is down
32 percent in the first 6 months of the program, 30 percent--32
percent of the dropouts.
And in George Wythe High School in Richmond, Virginia--I am
sure you are familiar; it was one of the most troubled
schools--we found that the expulsion rates went down 71 percent
in just 5 months, compared to 17 percent the year before. The
Richmond Police Department reports that arrests of students
dropped 38 percent. They also found that, in the immediate
neighborhood, motor vehicle thefts were down 37 percent, from
64 to 17, in the sector around George Wythe.
Mr. Scott. Say that again.
Mr. Woodson. That the George Wythe School----
Mr. Scott. The motor thefts.
Mr. Woodson. The motor vehicle thefts went down 73 percent,
from 64 to 17, in sector around the George Wythe School. Police
Lieutenant Scott C. Booth said, ``I believe that the youth
intervention aspects of the Violence-Free Zone was responsible
for these changes because kids were remaining in school.''
And the same in Dallas, Texas, where we have had it in the
Madison High School, where there were 133 gang incidents and,
as a consequence of applying this intervention, it is down to
And so we have demonstrated that this approach works, but
the difficulty we have in getting acceptance is because these
programs are being implemented by untutored people; only, they
are being done with the cooperation of the police. And, as a
part of my testimony, I have comments from superintendents,
chiefs of police. Rodney Monroe, as you know, who just left
Richmond, was responsible for the police department funding
this program in Richmond. And now we are in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin; Antelope Valley, California; Dallas, Texas; and
And so my recommendation is that perhaps some of this
billion dollars that we spent in juvenile justice research over
the course of 10 years that continues to focus on failure--you
cannot learn anything from studying failure except how to
create it. Perhaps some of these bright people can come and
look at neighborhood interventions that are working for kids
and then report back to you why they are effective, how they
are effective, and perhaps give us some more knowledge about
what we can do to reduce youth violence in America.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Woodson follows:]
Prepared Statement of Robert L. Woodson, Sr.
Mr. Scott. Thank you. Thank you.
TESTIMONY OF BEVERLY COLEMAN-MILLER, M.D., UNITY CONSULTANT,
SENIOR MEDICAL CONSULTANT, HEALTH EDUCATION NETWORK,
Dr. Coleman-Miller. Thank you for the honor to be able to
present to you. I am Dr. Beverly Coleman-Miller. I am an
internal medicine physician, and, in our work, we pump on
chests in a world of great pain to do CPR. The Urban Networks
to Increase Thriving Youth is providing CPR in a municipal
form. We provide a road map for preventing violence in cities.
The UNITY project is a national project that comes with
great enthusiasm for the ``Youth PROMISE Act.'' It is CDC-
funded. It is violence-prevention-centered, believing, in fact,
that you can prevent violence. And, as a public health problem,
violence is preventable.
We, as adults, have seen violence increase over time. And,
with the stress and upset that is going to exist over these
next few years, we suspect that violence will become an awesome
problem in municipalities. And so, as a result of that, we are
offering UNITY as a road map to begin to bring the people to
the table who, in a city-wide strategy, can offer the elements
of design that will change the face of violence in cities.
It already has, in many cities. It saves lives. In Boston,
in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles, in Cleveland and Tucson, the
UNITY project has been not only invested in but supported by
communities, from citizens who have lost their families, like
Ms. Speight, to mayors who are requesting that we come and help
organize their projects.
There is a set of key strategies that the UNITY project
offers, and those key strategies have to do with early care and
education, positive social development, youth leadership,
social corrections in neighborhoods, mental health care, and,
in the system-wide approach, looking at ways the schools can be
improved, family support services, street outreach, and
mentoring, which has been spoken about in a number of
With more resources, cities can do more work to do violence
prevention. If they see it as a public health issue, UNITY can
help them in their road map to create better statistics than we
The greatest impact will be if it remains a city-wide
strategy and coordinated for all members of the communities,
rather than just administrative or criminal justice or social
There was a city assessment that was done by UNITY that
proved that they could prevent violence and get lower violence
rates if they could institute it a hundred percent. It is our
belief that, with increased resources, we can expand this
project into other cities. The people who are involved in the
UNITY project are people who I have watched look at violence
over many, many years and have not used just graphs to
determine how to approach this but, rather, visited the places
where the victims have had to suffer through and the
perpetrators have had to be incarcerated. And those travels
have created a laboratory that really does focus exactly where
violence prevention needs to occur.
I can remember visiting a prison at one point and listening
to a young person tell me that they can get everything they
want from home instead of in this prison. They can get clean
beds, and they can get great food, and they can get good
friends, and they can get what they want. But when asked, what
can you get from this prison that you cannot get at home, their
answer was quite disturbing. It was: We are safe here. There
are no guns. When we fight, we duke it out.
At this point, to see my gray hair, knowing that in my
watch some young people have created prisons as sanctuaries is
rather distressing. The UNITY project is a project that works.
And we ask for support for resources to our cities to be able
to expand this project.
Thank you very much.
[The talking points of Dr. Coleman-Miller follows:]
Talking Points of Beverly Coleman-Miller
Mr. Scott. Thank you very much, Dr. Coleman-Miller.
We will now have questions with the panel. Hopefully we
will stay close to 5 minutes. We will do the best we can.
Let me start with Mr. Woodson.
Have you done any cost analysis on your programs where you
have gone in, reduced crime?
Mr. Woodson. That is what we are doing right now. Because
when the police department--this was an unintended benefit of
the police department, because we were looking at the cost of
suspensions, dropouts. For instance, in one school, the
principal reported that every week a child was transported to
the hospital injured in a fight, but, as a consequence of our
intervention, it went to zero ambulance calls. We are trying to
determine then what is the cost savings from transporting that
child. Most of them don't have health care. So what is the cost
to--right now we are in the process, in working with Baylor
University, to do that cost-benefit analysis.
Mr. Scott. And the lifetime cost for a shooting victim,
most of whom are uninsured, gets into the hundreds of thousands
of dollars. So if you reduce shootings, you have had a
significant reduction in health care, you have a reduction in
Mr. Woodson. Yes.
Mr. Scott. And what it would be virtually impossible to
calculate is any program that significantly reduces crime will
also reduce social service, health care, and a lot of other
expenses. So if you can let me know as soon as you get that
calculation done, I would like to see it.
Mr. Woodson. Congressman, we are going to do it. And you
know George Wythe. We only go into the most dangerous schools
where the problem is the worst, so no one can accuse of us
Mr. Scott. Now, once you have gone in and gotten a truce,
what positive alternatives, positive choices do the children
have? They had the choice to join the gangs. After you have
gotten a truce, what positive activities are there in lieu of
Mr. Woodson. Well, first of all, we gave them the kind of
respect. Those two young men, one was leader of the Avenue and
the other the Circle. Following their truce, David Gilmore, the
housing receiver, we put them together, and their crews,
working to clean up the community they destroyed. See, they
were given work. And they cleaned up--they removed more
graffiti and planted more grass in 6 months than the Housing
Authority staff did in 4 years.
But they also, they took their first paycheck and had a
picnic in the community where the kids were nonexistent on the
street because they were fearful. So what we also did is we
gave them responsibility for someone else. That is reciprocity.
Most programs treat these young people as a client, where
they are always the object of services or gifts. And these
young men can't be coerced into changing or bribed into
changing; they must be inspired to change by giving them
respect. We invited them to our banquet, for instance, and said
you can't come with baggy pants and all, so they put on
business suits. We brought 30 business suits. We had 90
business suits we brought them in 3 years. We got them their
driver's licenses. So, in other words, what we did,
Congressman, is helped them to be responsible for others.
And Teak Gruton, who was the area DEA administrator at the
time, came to my office with three officers and said, ``Bob,
when the DEA goes in and creates a raid in Benning, the crime
gets dispersed into contiguous communities. But our field
office tells us, not only is crime down in Benning, but it is
also down in the neighboring communities. So you all are curing
the problem.'' They are powerful leaders.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
Mr. Trubow, you have indicated that you can do a risk
assessment. How accurate is that risk assessment? I mean, do
you do a control group to show that the people you have
identified are much more likely to commit a crime than a
similar group that was not assessed?
Mr. Trubow. Yes. What we do is we weight risk factors based
on local schools. So we don't use the same weighted risk factor
all over. And we use logistic regression modeling, okay, very
scientific modeling, to predict which children are most at
Mr. Scott. Well, some of the communities we have
identified, some States in terms of incarceration rates, an
African-American community can get up to 4,000 per 100,000. And
if you can reduce that to 1,000 per 100,000, which would be
about 50 more than the worse rate on earth, the United States
at 700, you would be spending--and then you figure about 25
percent of the population of the children, you would be
spending about $3,000 per child per year that you could save in
And if you could target that money at, say, the one-third
that are at risk, you are up to about $9,000 per child per year
that you could spend just by reallocating what you are spending
now. So if you can do a risk assessment this really targets
where the problem is, you could really load up on that
community to significantly reduce crime.
So my question is, how accurate is this assessment?
Mr. Trubow. Well, the reason that it is accurate, once we
create the model----
Mr. Scott. How accurate is it?
Mr. Trubow. I would have to send you the statistics.
Mr. Scott. Because, let's say, if you have a group of 100,
if you can tell which 20 are most likely to commit crimes, then
you can load up all the money on that 20.
Mr. Trubow. Right. That is exactly right.
Mr. Scott. And then if half of those who would have
committed a crime--that is what I am looking for. And you are
going to get me the numbers.
If you have identified somebody at risk, how accurate, how
effective is your intervention?
Mr. Trubow. The one thing I want to say is we give a risk
index. So we will tell you, this child has a 100 percent
probability of dropout, 100 percent. And anything to me over 40
percent is high-risk. But if I say to you, this child is over
age, they are reading 3 years below grade level, they are
truant, they have suspensions, if I give you 21 risk factors
and they are giving you 100 percent probability, then what we
do is this: We attack those factors of risk. We try to remove
those risk factors, and then we see if the score goes down.
If we can take a child who is 100 percent probability for
dropout and we can reduce it to 30 percent or 40 percent, then
we feel we have made an effective intervention.
Mr. Scott. Have any of these interventions been analyzed to
show that you actually have reduced the incidence of crime?
Mr. Trubow. Yes.
Mr. Scott. Okay. We would like to see those studies. That
could be very helpful to us.
Mr. Trubow. Yes, I will send it. It was done in Monmouth,
New Jersey. It is the Behavior Monitoring and Reinforcement
Program. I will send it to you. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. Dr. Krisberg, in terms of reducing the incidence
of crime, what effect do longer sentences have in scaring young
people out of committing crime?
Mr. Krisberg. There is overwhelming research that longer
sentences have a minimal effect, if at all. I mean, the classic
example would be in California, which has the highest length of
stay in its youth correctional system of any State and has a
violence and gang problem that would rival any State.
So, again, there is no consistent issue. You can take
somebody out of circulation for a little bit of time, but,
unlike adults where we could lock them up for 20, 30 years,
with kids we are talking about a relatively small period of
time. So, again, we have invested in tougher penalties, but
they don't seem to be making an impact.
And, you know, I always like to explain to people in terms
of, think of a bunch of kids hanging on the street corner. Do
you think their conversation is something like, ``Well, did you
see what Scott's Committee did last week, increasing those
Federal penalties?'' I mean, that is not what they are talking
about. Penalties are not what they are responding to. They are
responding to what is going on in the street and what is going
on in their lives. And if you don't address that, you know, the
rest of it is a very costly strategy.
By the way, I would add to the Chief's comments. Chicago
CeaseFire, which I have had an opportunity to look at, has
excellent research. It incorporates a public health model,
incorporates a lot of the elements you talked about. And I
would really urge this Committee to look at that program.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
My time is more than expired. The gentleman from Texas?
Mr. Gohmert. Thank you, Chairman Scott.
And I really appreciate all of your dedication to a similar
goal, and the same goal perhaps, of reducing violence among our
youth. I think we are all headed for the same goal. Maybe some
different paths toward getting there and some disagreements on
the way there, but I really appreciate the dedication that each
of you has.
One of the things that I noticed in my years on the bench
as a district judge, handling thousands of felony cases, began
to eat away more and more with me, when you talk about risk
factors, Mr. Trubow. The thing that kept occurring over and
over, I am seeing people that never had a relationship with a
father, over and over. And, you know, you want to blame
somebody, it is kind of hard to blame the mom. I mean, they had
their hands full, doing everything they could to give them
food, shelter, and, you know, maybe working more than one job.
It just is a tough situation. And we realize there are factors
and issues about fathers being in prison. Obviously it is hard
to be there for your kid if you are in prison.
But I have gotten some statistics here. Back in 1990, clear
back 19 years ago, almost 5 million children lived in
neighborhoods in which single mothers were head of household in
more than half of all families in those neighborhoods, and 80
percent of those children were African-Americans. Then coming
up more recently, about 27 percent of White children do not
live with their biological father, 35 percent of Hispanic
children, and 66 percent of African-American children. And, you
know, that seems to coincide with what I found as a judge.
Let's see, more recently, 2000, among White mothers, about
27 percent of all births were outside of wedlock; among
Hispanic mothers, about 43 percent; African-American mothers,
about 70 percent.
And, you know, what I saw is not all those who don't get in
trouble; I saw the ones that got in trouble. And there for
about a 3-month period, I kept a little mark of people who had
no relationship to speak of with their father, and it was right
about 80 percent of the people I sentenced. Whatever age they
were, regardless of race, I was getting people mainly who had
no relationship with their father.
So I have wondered--is it ``Trubow''?
Mr. Trubow. Yes, sir.
Mr. Gohmert. Is that one of the risk factors that you
consider the all?
Mr. Trubow. Yes. We look at risk factors across four
ecological domains: individual; family, which you pointed out;
community; and school. So we use all four.
So you are correct. If a child shows up to school who is 5
years old, doesn't have a father, maybe mother was 16 years
old, that is a risk factor. All right? Whereas another kid
shows up at school, he has both parents, and he is ready to
learn, he is ready to learn. So the minority, economically
disadvantaged child is at a disadvantage at the get-go.
Neither one of them are gang-bangers, neither one are
violent. They are 5 years old. It is not the child's fault that
he doesn't have a father, right? And because their ZIP code
puts them in a high-density crime area neighborhood.
So that is why those school risk factors--education is the
great equalizer. So if that child does not learn how to read
between kindergarten and third grade, they start to become
alienated. And by fourth, fifth, sixth grade, we start to see
behaviors, we start to see attendance change. And then other
factors that you so wisely pointed out, they compound the
Mr. Gohmert. Well, it goes to what Chief Bradley was
talking about, too, with Head Start. And then I wonder beyond
Head Start, because, you know, I have been to lots of Head
Start programs and see the effect they are having on kids, and
it is very touching and moving at times, just inspiring too, to
see these grateful kids. But then you wonder, now, how many of
those--because I really don't know, and I don't know if there
have been studies done--how many of those that go to Head Start
maybe have two parents or have a better home situation and that
is why they are there at Head Start and not out missing an
opportunity at Head Start. And I don't know if that has been
studied or not.
Do you know, Dr. Krisberg, if some study like that has been
Mr. Krisberg. Yeah, probably the most thorough research on
Head Start has been done in the Michigan program. And this was
specifically targeted at low-income kids with lots of
disadvantages. And Head Start still produces a very positive
benefit for those kids, as well. The original Head Start
programs were targeted at poor kids, as you know.
Mr. Gohmert. But I wonder about the kids who don't end up
going to Head Start. You know, what is their situation? Why do
we not capture them into the Head Start program? What are we
missing there that might get them there, that increases the
chance of them not getting in trouble? Do you know?
Mr. Krisberg. Well, resources are key. If you have more
Head Start resources, you are going to get more families
willing to enroll in them.
Mr. Gohmert. Gotcha.
Mr. Krisberg. I mean, the demand for quality child care in
this country is almost unlimited. So as much money as we can
pour into it, you are going to have parents who are going to
step up and want to take advantage of it. So I think that is
The other issue is, in my view, outreach. One of the most
interesting programs I am seeing around the country are
pediatricians, even OB/GYN doctors, who identify families at
high risk almost at the moment of birth and begin directing
those families into the visiting nurse programs that the Chief
was talking about.
So I think if we could set up a system in which we could
identify, particularly through the medical public health
system, families at risk and begin channeling them to these
very cost-effective resources, we would save a ton of money.
Mr. Gohmert. Well, you had mentioned that, you know,
adolescents make bad decision. At some point in their lives as
they grow, do you acknowledge that we end up with some folks
who are truly antisocial personalities, used to be called
sociopaths, in the legal system?
The test would be they know right from wrong, could conform
their conduct to the requirements of the law, they just choose
not to. Do you acknowledge that personality too?
Mr. Krisberg. Absolutely. In the work I do with kids who
are locked up, I certainly run across those kids. But more
frequently I come across kids who are suffering from severe
undiagnosed mental health issues; who, when the door is closed,
turn to me and say, ``You know, Doc, I am hearing voices,'' I
am having severe mental health issues, and nobody in the system
is picking that up.
So, yeah, I do agree there are the sociopaths you are
talking about, but I also think we have to do a much better job
of identifying kids who are suffering from significant mental
health issues and beginning to respond to the point where it is
Mr. Gohmert. And it also gets over into the situation that
Dr. Coleman-Miller--you know, there are people you see and you
want to see that they are taken care of and get assistance and
a push in the right direction. But what do you see in
communities that has been the most effective groups or efforts
at getting them plugged in where they feel the respect that Mr.
Woodson was talking about?
Dr. Coleman-Miller. I think part of--over the 40 or 30
years that I have been looking at this, I think probably the
acknowledgment of their personal family is probably primary. It
is that someone recognizes that there is a king under that
hood. And when they do, there is behavior change, and when it
is consistent and it is real.
Secondly, there are advocacy agencies. There is the Boys
Club, which I often hear spoken of and supported by people with
gray hair, who say, I would never have been the same had it not
And, by the way, I left out grandmothers. Because I have
figured out there is a huge number of people, probably even in
this room, who are alive because of them and who feel their
But school systems have been definitely tested more than
once. And when they are tested to the point where they are
overwrought, schools have a difficult time sometimes being able
to focus young people into their greatness. And so dropouts is
the sequella of that.
But the truth is that there are people who step in
everyone's path. And today we stepped in many young people's
paths and ignored them, didn't even speak to them, marked them
absent just by not looking at them. Those are the kinds of
things that communities need some education about, some support
in. And that is what the UNITY project is beginning to do.
We are literally changing language. Today I heard four
different languages spoken right here at this table. One of
them talked about crime. I talked about a public health
disease. Others talk about criminal justice. This communication
in cities is difficult, and so it needs to have some language
discussion. Police call it violence. Doctors call it
intentional injury. Totally different index in that textbook.
So, for us, we know that the UNITY project, one of the
things we have to really get to is communication and be able to
get cities to talk to each other on different levels.
Mr. Gohmert. Well, I haven't gotten to ask anything of Mr.
Woodson. I appreciate the new chairman, but we were taking a
little more flexibility beyond the 5 minutes because it was
just Chairman Scott and me.
But, Mr. Woodson, you are an inspiration with what you have
been able to accomplish, just fantastic. And I had a note that
Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, or CNE, is a faith-based
organization. Is that correct?
Mr. Woodson. No, sir. It is a nonprofit, community,
national organization that assists organizations, including
Mr. Gohmert. Okay. So you assist faith-based groups?
Mr. Woodson. Uh-huh, yes.
Mr. Gohmert. But doesn't it seem to you that that is also
an important component, that some of the faith-based groups
seem to be motivated by love and people feel that?
Mr. Woodson. Absolutely. What reaches these young people is
not necessarily a program or an appeal; it is when you make a
lifetime commitment to them. Most of the grassroots leaders
that we support, they are not in the lives of these young
people for the term of a grant or conditions of a contract. And
if money were to be withdrawn, they would still be in their
lives. And so, that is what we are supporting around the
Mr. Gohmert. Do you have any copies of your book here? I
would like to be a good customer and purchase one of those.
Mr. Woodson. No, sir, but I will make certain that you
But most of what I did with the second book is go and find
out neighborhood leaders like the Fattahs around the Nation,
and they bring people the young people whose lives they have
touched and transformed. I put them at a table and let them say
to us professionals what changed them and why did they change
and what can be done. Too much is targeted to them and not
solicited from them. What do they consider important to
transform their lives?
Mr. Gohmert. Did you find that people, the young people you
dealt with, also had a much higher percentage of the group who
had no relationship with a father so they didn't get the
respect you were talking about?
Mr. Woodson. Yes, sir. My dad died when I was--he was sick
from the time when I was 7, and he died when I was 9. So I was
raised by my mom in a high-crime area with five children. I am
the youngest of five.
Mr. Gohmert. So what kept you from going----
Mr. Woodson. There were two things. First of all, the kind
of values that she communicated to us. She had to work all the
time. But also my group, the young men that I chose--you cannot
grow up in the inner city unaffiliated. You cannot. So I am
against people saying we need to abolish gangs. What we need to
change is the criminal behavior of the group.
When Wayne and Derrick decided to choose peace instead of
violence, they didn't stop associating with their crews. It is
just that these crews became venues for change. They used their
influence with younger men to set up football teams, that 40
young people showed up in 1 day because Wayne and Derrick
So they are indigenous leaders, and we need to learn how to
make better use of these indigenous leaders that the kids seek
out, and they become surrogate fathers. Some of these fathers
will never be active with their children, and therefore we must
find surrogates for them. And these young adults indigenous to
these communities ought to be looked at as surrogate fathers.
Mr. Gohmert. Thank you very much. I appreciate you all
being here and all that you do outside of here especially.
Ms. Jackson Lee. [presiding.] The gentleman's time has
expired. And I am delighted to acknowledge that the Chairman
has returned to the room. And I will yield the gavel for a few
minutes and return it to the Chairman.
Let me, first of all, thank him for what I think is an
enormously important hearing. And to get the ball rolling as
early as we are doing speaks to the epidemic proportions of
which we are dealing with.
And I like the terminology of Dr. Beverly Coleman-Miller. I
think it is an epidemic. I think it is a disease. I think it is
a health issue. I think violence kills. It is a health issue,
certainly for a lot of our minority youngsters, Hispanics
included, where the death toll on young men starts at 12,
starts earlier than that. The weekends that I return to
Houston, it is the 17-year-old that shoots a 40-year old. And
it is a crisis.
I would like to also thank the Chairman for the pending
bill. That has been, I think, something we have discussed over
the years. The Chairman and I have worked together from, I
would like to say, more than a decade ago when we began a tour
around the country, speaking to attorney generals about how
they could stem the tide of youth violence.
I am from Houston, the fourth largest city in the Nation,
and there is an epidemic there, frankly. And so I don't think
anyone should hide their face in shame. So I want to, across
the board, thank all of the panelists.
And, as a moment of personal privilege, I would like to
highlight two youth that are in the room, and if they could
stand, Mickey Leland interns who are here in the room, have
taken a different path. If they would stand and be
acknowledged. They are here listening, and hopefully they will
be the implementers of change. And many of you may have known
Congressman Mickey Leland. He was a change-maker. So we thank
you very much for being here.
Let me pose my questions, sort of, in a provocative manner.
I said it was an epidemic. I think the shortchanging of solving
this problem is money. And we have struggled against the tide
of incarceration versus rehabilitation or intervention. And
maybe we will get it right.
Chief Bradley, you may know my chief, Chief Harold Hurtt. I
know you are certainly aware of my former chief and mayor,
Chief Lee P. Brown, with community-oriented policing. I bet you
have used community-oriented policing and have actually seen
that, if it is used right, you can touch the lives of adults.
They know the cop on the beat; they are ready it tell you who
the person was, who the perpetrator was. They even have the
backs of the police officers that they get to know.
And I think we have to do something on the order of a
Marshall Plan for the opposition and the fight against youth
violence, if you will. And we have to be in the fight. And this
means it is going to be a lot of pulling of the teeth.
But last week I sat down with the faith office, my
colleague and I did, of the new President. And I think he has
gotten it right. It is not biased, it is going to be open. It
is going to be looking for solutions, and that is what we need
So let me pose one of the issues that I think--and I
believe in using tools of legislation to be helpful. A lot of
States incarcerate children with adults. I think that is a
crime in and of itself. And I intend to drop legislation to
prohibit that and to deny States Federal funding. I don't care
if they get a cardboard box, and separate the community.
A story that was just told in the national newspaper of a
young woman, 16 years old, who was incarcerated for meth, was
incarcerated with adults. She is 26. She has spent 10 years on
the street, based upon that limited experience. And she was
incarcerated for being a truant, a runaway. Those are childhood
activities, and we should treat them like a child.
So I would appreciate your comment on that, Dr. Krisberg. I
will just take an answer from everyone very quickly.
And my second question is--I would like to offer them both
at the same time--you know, when we started the crime bill in
the 1990's--and I was not here, I think, at the beginning when
that vote was taken--and in that was what we call--in fact, I
was on local government--something called midnight basketball
that people made an absolute joke of. Well, I want you to know,
I was on the ground, I was in Houston. And I took up the cause
of gangs as a member of the Houston City Council. I met with
gangs, sat down with them. And I did something called midnight
parks. We had to get volunteers, we had to get the park workers
to consent to keep the parks open, so that they would have some
place to come.
And it was around the theme of ``bad acts happen'' with
unattended--and I don't ignore the intervention and Head Start
for the early folks, but I know that we are dealing with the
folk that are out there right now. And I happen to think there
is something to having a place to go at midnight, 10 o'clock at
night for those whose mindset you have to alter. You can't get
them right away. They are going to be out at 10:00, at 11:00,
Chief, you might comment when your hottest nights or
hottest hours are.
And I am going to go down the row on the two questions.
And I bet you either it is Friday night and Saturday night,
but it is those late night----
Chief Bradley. Or Thursday.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Or Thursday night, but it is certainly
dark. There are some brazen folk in the midday, but there is
So maybe we have to get back and think creatively and not
be embarrassed by someone saying, well, you are certainly
throwing away money with midnight basketball. I don't care what
you call it, but if you think of a Marshall Plan and ending
epidemics, you have to find a way to pierce the veil of
stupidity. And what is the stupidity? Of us ignoring what is
Dr. Krisberg, on the question of incarcerating young people
Mr. Krisberg. Yeah, I would like to make a couple of quick
First of all, this Committee should know that three-
quarters of the persons under age 18 who are sent to prisons
and jails are African-American males--three-quarters.
Ms. Jackson Lee. A frightening number.
Mr. Krisberg. And the rest of them are largely Latino.
There are very few White youth under the age of 18 who get put
in our adult prisons.
Number two, the recent events in New York City at Rikers
Island, in which the guards organized other inmates as prison
gangs and resulted in the murder of an 18-year-old--and this,
again, in New York City, not some backwater place, needs to
give us pause.
Quite candidly, in this past Administration, the Office of
Juvenile Justice walked away from its responsibility----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Absolutely.
Mr. Krisberg [continuing]. To enforce the Juvenile Justice
Act. And I hope we strengthen that.
The last thing I would say is there are proven models that
work with youth who commit violent crimes. So, while I am all
for prevention, you know, I would emphasize places like
Missouri and Massachusetts and a number of other places that
are producing very good results with kids who have committed
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you.
Mr. Trubow. Yes, thank you. I just wanted to address what
you said about truancy or runaways and locking them up.
My State of Washington was the first State in the United
States to rule, 2 weeks ago, that any child who is cited for
truancy be represented by a lawyer. Fourteen thousand cases
were reversed. These are first-time truancy citations. Only the
State of Washington is the only State that has ruled that
truancy needs to be treated as part of a child's due process.
So, obviously, to put a child in jail with adults for
truancy or runaway is a violation of a child's due process
under law. Because a judge can order a child to be held in
almost every State in the country without a child having an
attorney to represent them. And this is really--you brought up
a very important point.
Lastly, in terms of truancy, and what happened the judge
also said in the State of Washington this made this landmark
ruling was it is time for schools to try to solve the root
causes of truancy in the school. It is not something that the
courts can solve. Instead, the child is vaulted from the school
into the judicial process, in with children that might be
serious criminal offenders.
So I think your point is well-made.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you.
Chief Bradley. I believe a root cause, if you look at
statistics, 73 percent of our kids have educational
disabilities, and 60 percent of our kids, mostly African-
American and minority youth, have problems adjusting to school.
They are designated as special ed. And once they get into a
special ed program, they misclassify a lot of kids who have
other problems. When they get into school, especially African-
American males, they don't want to be there in the first place.
And what it is, they don't ask them why they don't want to be
I had a kid one time who didn't want to go to school
because of peer pressure because he didn't have a bookbag and a
pair of sneakers. The officer, after four times of going to the
same house, asked the kid, ``Why? I keep coming here every
day.'' He said, ``I don't have a bookbag and sneakers.'' The
officer went and bought him a bookbag and sneakers; the kid
graduated from school.
So there are a lot of things, like I said, where 80 percent
of our job is social work, 20 percent is the stuff you see on
Ms. Jackson Lee. Can you speak to that midnight activity?
Chief Bradley. I will get right to that. The midnight
activity, what we did to adjust it, we had a different program
with curfew. The guys at curfew, we had the faith-based
organization open up their church, and we did counseling
sessions at night.
Ms. Jackson Lee. And it works. I mean, I am not telling you
what to do, but what you are saying is----
Chief Bradley. It works.
Ms. Jackson Lee. It works. Keeping them in those hours,
Chief Bradley. Right. Your program, it works. It gets them
in place. Plus, it is a safe zone. They can go in there and
know they won't be shot or they won't be killed. Okay? So those
programs do work.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Appreciate it, Chief.
Mr. Woodson. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of the reasons we
are able to maintain those numbers is because the Running
Rebels organization operates a basketball league that recruits
from around the eight schools. It is the only venue in the city
where all the kids are playing on sports and mixing together.
And so it has been a very important tool to reduce conflicts
because, as kids play together, they are not fighting. So you
are absolutely correct that athletics and entertainment is a
very important tool.
Ms. Jackson Lee. And faith programs or others that could
host young people at those odd hours is not a frivolous act.
Mr. Woodson. Absolutely. And what these young men do is,
when they have their sports activity, they make sure that they
mixed kids from different neighborhoods so that they get a
chance to know one another and have sports activities together.
So this is intentional. So you are absolutely right. It is
crucial in the arsenal of reducing kids' violence.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Dr. Beverly Coleman-Miller, if you could
speak to the incarceration issue of a young person with an
Dr. Coleman-Miller. Clearly the young people who--this is
being redefined, because 14 years old now, after that super
predator act, became the adult. My statement at that point was
we should all be up all night to make sure this never happens
again. And, as a result of it, we have now laws in States that
allow 14-year-olds to be in adult prisons, incarcerated.
The only way that is going to change is if the public
starts to be able to see that these perpetrators at 14 still
have a way to correct their behaviors.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Some way of redemption.
Dr. Coleman-Miller. They have lost faith in that. And they
are, therefore, permitting this 14-year-old to go to prison--
and 12. And they are judging it on such things as size,
attitude. And they are getting very little mental health care
in the midst of that. And so there are many things that are
happening right now that States are doing based on fear. These
are heinous crimes that some of these young people have done,
and the statements are supported by the policies that have been
put in place by fearful people.
I want to just mention also that this basketball----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Specifically late-night.
Dr. Coleman-Miller. At 12 midnight we also brought people
to take their blood pressures. We wanted to know if their
girlfriends who were visiting with them had prenatal care. We
wanted to know if there were any job interviews that could
happen at midnight. So that there were huge resources brought
to their side, so that when they sat down to take a break and
sweat a little bit, there was just as much sweat coming in from
the back when they were being asked questions that we just
couldn't catch them to ask any other time. And they responded,
because they understood for the first time that, if you can
listen, you can see improvement. And we just watched that
So this is the kind of thing that the UNITY project wants
to do to prevent violence from ever happening, as opposed to
treated after the fact.
Ms. Jackson Lee. The gentlelady's time has expired, meaning
mine, not yours. And I would be happy to yield to the
distinguished Chairman for his second round of 5 minutes.
Mr. Scott. [presiding.] I would like to thank the
gentlelady from Texas.
I just had a couple of other questions. And, one, just
following up, Dr. Coleman-Miller, you are recommending a public
health strategy toward violence prevention. Do you have studies
that show that it works?
Dr. Coleman-Miller. Absolutely. We have studies that have
shown that violence is a learned behavior and that it can be
unlearned. And we have watched this occur over many different
circumstances. You know that smoking is preventable, and we saw
in our lifetime people unlearn smoking. We saw seatbelts being
used; people learned an unlearned behavior.
So learned behavior has proven time and again to be able to
be unlearned over time. And the statistics have been quite
significant for violence prevention efforts. In these cities in
particular--Boston, in particular, and Los Angeles, where they
have been able to reduce the number of violent acts secondary
to learning alternative behaviors, which has been--and there
are many documents. If it you would like, we can send you the
big pile of documents proving that learned behavior can be
Mr. Scott. And can you avoid learning it in the first
Dr. Coleman-Miller. Which is why we are starting the UNITY
initiative and trying to make sure that--our tolerance for
violence right new is quite high in most cities. And that level
of tolerance means that we have to begin right now, during a
very turbulent time in our country, to be able to teach young
people who witness violence, young people who are perpetrators
of lesser crimes, who are surrounded by violence, they have to
learn other ways to handle it, alternative ways.
Mr. Scott. Well, and you have studies that show that the
Dr. Coleman-Miller. Absolutely. And we will be happy to
present them to you.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
And, finally, Mr. Bradley, you indicated that, once they
join a gang, it is hard to get them out.
Chief Bradley. Yes.
Mr. Scott. What does that say about what our strategy ought
to be in terms of reducing the incidence of gang membership and
Chief Bradley. What we could do is basically teach our kids
good socialization skills. A lot of times, it is a call for
help. When they come in, like Head Start, teach them good
structure, teach them how to interact with each other.
People talk about gangs like it is something really novel.
Every Sunday during football season we see a gang on TV of 22
every day, but they are focused on something that is real
positive. What we are trying to do is get our kids focused on
something positive where we could change a lot of behavior.
We worked with former gang members in Newark, the Street
Warriors, when we had a lot of violence, uptick in violence. We
work with them, they talk with youth, got them steered in the
So you get the socialization skills, get them focused on
something positive, have the resources and the programs to give
them different resources, after-school programs, teaching them,
making them employable, things of that nature. We can steer our
kids from gangs and also give them viable alternatives not to
get into gangs. So it can be done.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
I want to thank all of our witnesses for their testimony.
Are there any other closing comments that people want to
I want to thank you for your comments. The Members may have
additional written questions, which we will forward to you and
ask that you answer as promptly as you can in order that the
answers may be part of the record.
And, without objection, the hearing record will remain open
for 1 week for the submission of additional materials.
Again, I want to thank our witnesses.
And, without objection, the Subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:37 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Louie Gohmert, a Representative in
Congress from the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
Thank you, Chairman Scott.
This is the first hearing of the Crime Subcommittee this Congress.
I would like to welcome our newest Members to the Subcommittee. Judge
Ted Poe of Texas will serve as our distinguished Deputy Ranking Member.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who is a senior member of the
Full Judiciary Committee, joins this subcommittee. And Congressman Tom
Rooney of Florida will serve this subcommittee and this Congress with
distinction, I'm sure. I look forward to working with you three as well
as our new colleagues who are joining the Majority.
Although some of our colleagues on other subcommittees may not
admit it, the Crime Subcommittee is traditionally the busiest
subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. We meet often because Congress
has an important role to play in a developing policy and legislation
regarding the criminal justice system, the fight to defeat terrorism,
and the effort to keep the homeland secure.
Youth violence is one of the most challenging issues facing our
nation. Although we have done much to reduce the overall level of
violent crime across the country, violence among youth--either as
individuals or as members of organized criminal gangs--has been a
difficult problem to solve.
Today's hearing on Youth Violence is certainly timely. As many of
you know, James Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern
University, recently published a study that found a nationwide
``surge'' in gun-related homicides involving young black males.
Specifically, the study found that the homicide victimization rate
for black males aged 14 to 17 increased nationwide from 2002 to 2007 by
31 percent. The number of black male juveniles accused of murder rose
by 43 percent over the same time frame.
Paradoxically, the study covered a time when the nation saw an
overall decrease in violent crime, including a 1.3 percent decline in
murders in 2007.
The Fox study stated that cuts in federal support for policing and
youth violence prevention may be partly responsible for the resurgence
in homicide, especially among minority youth. In the study, Professor
Fox urges increases of federal funding for crime prevention and crime
control, in particular the COPS program and juvenile justice
The study predictably gained a good deal of media attention,
especially in the cities and areas highlighted in the report. Along
with this media attention came some criticism that the study
misrepresents trends in the murder rates among African American youth.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a January
hearing, Dr. David Muhlhausen of the respected Heritage Foundation
wrote that the ``surge'' described by Professor Fox and his research
team was overstated.
Dr. Muhlhausen wrote that ``to put this `surge' in proper
perspective, policymakers need to understand that the years used in
this comparison were selected for their dramatic effect.'' Muhlhausen
wrote that it was necessary to view the violent crime rate over a
longer period ``to obtain a balanced perspective on homicide rates of
Dr. Muhlhausen advocated an approach where violent crime trends
were followed over a thirty year period--about a generation--from 1976
to 2007. Taking this longer view, he notes that the 2007 level of black
homicide victimizations--a year which is the high point of the seven
year period studied by Professor Fox--is dramatically lower than the
Further, Dr. Muhlhausen noted that the homicide victimization rate
of 14- to 17-year-old black males decreased by almost 60 percent from
1993 to 2007--a decrease from 47 homicides per 100,000 in 1993 to 19
homicides per 100,000 in 2007.
Dr. Muhlhausen also noted that the upward trend in black homicide
victimization rates for the period studied by Professor Fox did not
hold for older black males. From 2002 to 2007, the homicide
victimization rates of black males aged 18-24 and 25 and older
decreased by 2.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
I recite these statistics not to make light of the Fox study, but I
do want to inject some perspective into the discussion that we will
have today. I think that it is important to note that most indicators
demonstrate that America is overall a much safer place than it was
fifteen years ago.
Studies by Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics
indicate that since 1994, the national rate for violent crime--
including robbery, sexual assault, and murder--decreased nationally,
reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2005. Further, the most
recently published FBI Uniform Crime Report or UCR indicates a
continued decrease in the rate of violent crimes nationally.
Paradoxically, the UCR also showed the rate of violent crime
increased in smaller cities, including Austin and San Antonio, Texas.
There is also this unsettling increase in youth crime. These are the
anomalies that I would like to hear discussed.
Further, I hope that the discussion involves more than merely
advocating more federal funding for state and local law enforcement. In
the last ten years, Congress committed significant resources to
programs like the Byrne JAG grant program and COPS Office at the
Department of Justice.
Since 1999, Byrne/JAG grants have totaled more than $ 8.4 billion
in funding (an average of $840 million per year). And in the last ten
fiscal years, the COPS program has awarded more than $7.49 billion to
over 13,000 law enforcement agencies.
Although much of this money has gone to good use, there are a
number of studies and Inspectors General reports that indicate that
some cities and localities have misused funds by not complying with
grant conditions. Other studies have shown that federal funding has not
led to an increase in the overall spending by local law enforcement but
has merely replaced state and local funding for police and law
The so-called economic stimulus passed by the House includes $4
billion in local law enforcement funding, and the Senate bill
reportedly contains $3.5 billion for that purpose. Nonetheless, I am
concerned that the overall funding in both bills represents an
irresponsible increase in federal spending of money we do not have that
will so overwhelmingly overload the coming generations with debt, they
will be prevented from ever getting to enjoy the American Dream of
Rather than this huge increase in federal funding, we should
support grassroots organizations and community groups, including faith-
based groups who are motivated by love and care rather than federal
money, that work from the ground up to prevent crime and rehabilitate
individuals and neighborhoods.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses. I am
especially interested in the testimony of the witnesses who represent
community groups and faith-based organizations. I believe that the
Members of the Subcommittee will benefit from your expertise and
recommendations for best practices.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative
in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Chairman, Committee on the
The Fox study on trends in youth violence is commendable for its
in-depth, no holds barred analysis of the horrendous picture of gun
violence in this country, an issue to which this Subcommittee has
devoted extensive examination and legislative initiatives. Homicide is
the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 10 and
24, and the second leading cause of death for Hispanic males of that
age group. More Americans are murdered each year by gunfire than were
killed in 9/11.
Among the important questions this hearing will examine is, ``how
did we end up in this place?''
As Professor Fox shows, we were lulled into complacency by the
sharp decline in gun violence during the 1990s, and since that time our
priorities have moved away from fighting street crime.
Virtually no major city is immune from the surge in youth and gang
violence. From Houston to Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, the increase
in gun violence committed by juvenile black males and against juvenile
black males is astounding.
Houston, with the lowest unemployment numbers in the country and
highest job growth rates, saw a 139 percent increase in the number of
black suspects in Houston homicides between 2000 and 2007, the largest
percentage increase among 28 large cities studied by Professor Fox.
Economic disparities are a critical component of this growing
trend. Professor Raymond Teske Jr. of Sam Houston State University
writes in the Houston Chronicle, ``If the victims were white middle
class or upper-class youth, implementing a plan of action would be
This hearing will underscore the need for federal initiatives that
restore law enforcement funding and fund programs that target at-risk
children in a long term approach to preventing crime. As Professor Fox
says, we can ``pay now or pray later.''
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Maxine Waters, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California, and Member, Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
Mr. Chairman, thank you for organizing today's hearing to examine
``Youth Violence: Trends, Myths and Solutions.'' I believe that making
this issue the subject of our first Crime Subcommittee hearing of the
new session demonstrates your commitment to ending policies that don't
work and legislating new policies that data shows can and will steer
juveniles away from criminal activities and into productive members of
The repeated outbreaks of senseless violence make it painfully
clear that we have to act soon to break the deadly cycle of gang
violence. We must work together with partners from every segment of our
community and with resources from all levels of government--local,
state and federal. The only way to achieve results is through a
comprehensive approach that balances prevention and punishment.
Today's hearing is very important because there are a number of
proposals that are being considered to address the devastating problem
of gangs. Some, in my opinion, are overly focused on increased
penalties, but will not address the root problems that allow gangs to
persist in their deadly grip on our communities.
One proposal, written by Chairman Scott, is the Youth Promise Act.
I was pleased to co-sponsor this bill last session and look forward to
co-sponsoring it when it's reintroduced this week. This proposal
addresses some of the root causes of gangs and it relies on evidence-
based solutions that have been proven to work. This bill implements the
advice heard in our Crime Subcommittee over the last session from over
50 crime policy experts, including researchers, practitioners analysts,
and law enforcement officials from across the political spectrum
concerning evidence- and research-based strategies to reduce gang
violence and crime. These strategies are targeted to young people who
are at-risk of becoming involved, or are already involved in, gangs or
the criminal justice system to redirect them toward productive and law-
Let me just say here that I feel very strongly that one of the ways
Congress can most effectively fight crime is NOT to pass more
legislation that adds more penalties on top of the very tough penalties
that are already on the books. I believe the most effective thing that
Congress can do is to increase funding for programs that will provide
front line law enforcement and social service providers with the
resources they need to actually prevent crime, especially as it relates
to juvenile justice programs.
One aspect of reducing youth violence is the imposition of
mandatory minimum sentences that take discretion away from judges and
force the imposition of sentences that don't fit the crime. Instead of
devoting federal prosecutorial resources to the major drug traffickers
who prey on vulnerable youngsters, use them as pawns and increase their
access to guns, precious resources have been spent on the low-level
offenders and non-violent offenders. This will be one of my priorities
this session, and I'm looking forward to working with our Chairman to
address the issue of mandatory minimum sentences that
disproportionately impact minorities. I will very soon be introducing
the Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2009, which will refocus
federal prosecutorial resources on major drug traffickers instead of
low-level offenders and non-violent offenders. This bill will be very
similar to legislation I introduced in the 107th Congress, but I am
hopeful that we now have a fresh opportunity to correct one critical
aspect of failed criminal justice policies. At one time, there were
those who supported the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences based
on a belief that such measures would help fight the war on drugs. It
was not necessarily clear at that time what impact such decisions would
have on minority communities. However, data today makes it very clear
that not only was the impact devastating on communities of color, but
that the policy was not effective.
I'm looking forward to the testimony from all of our witnesses
today and learning about your recommendations to fight youth violence
in our communities--about what works and what doesn't work.