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Corruption Chronicles

Urban Gang Rehab Centers May Get $1.6 Billion

As if government spending wasn’t already out of control, urban “gang rehabilitation” groups stand to get a $1.6 billion taxpayer infusion under a bill circulating in Congress.

The Youth Promise Act will give the cash to nonprofits in major U.S. cities that claim to save and heal gang bangers by hiring and nurturing them. Among recipients of the money will be Homeboy Industries, a rehab center in Los Angeles that addresses “the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth.”

Among the services that U.S. taxpayers will finance at groups like Homeboy if the measure passes are tattoo removal, job training and placement, legal services and mental health counseling for gang members. There is also “pre-release” (from prison) and transition counseling as well as a variety of educational opportunities.

The legislation to funnel such a huge chunk of public money into these groups was introduced by a Democrat congressman (Bobby Scott) from Virginia and has 235 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. So far only 14 senators back the measure but support is growing and the bill could end up becoming law.

The infusion is necessary because budget cuts have forced groups like Homeboy Industries to stop paying gang members to attend work training sessions and carry out maintenance work at centers that offer them a variety of free perks. Some do administrative jobs to help out, but they still get regular checks.

Americans who may have concerns about how their money is spent under the Youth Promise Act can rest assured because the gang rehab facilities will be required to create panels that demonstrate their programs are effective. More assuring is that the so-called panels will have at least one city official along with a law enforcement presence.

 


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