Good morning. I am honored to be joined today by United States Attorneys Anna Mills Wagoner and George Holding, both of whom are doing a great job for North Carolina and this country. Along with all the men and women in the offices they lead, they exemplify the goal of the Department of Justice to work closely with our partners at the state and local level to fight violent crime in our communities.
One of the most troubling criminal threats, faced by too many of our cities and neighborhoods, is the scourge of gang violence. Removing that threat requires an integrated approach that takes advantage of partnerships with both law enforcement and community groups.
So I am pleased to be here to announce the implementation, and roll-out, of the grant funding for the Raleigh/Durham Comprehensive Anti-Gang Site. In 2006, six sites were awarded $2.5 million each to develop plans to combat gang violence in their community, and to implement their own anti-gang strategy using three essential components: prevention, enforcement, and prisoner reentry. Last year, this initiative was expanded to four new sites, including the Raleigh/Durham area.
To achieve enduring success against gangs, we must address the personal, family, and community factors that cause young people to choose gangs over better, more productive alternatives. The more we do in this area, the fewer people we'll have to prosecute for violent activity down the road. One million dollars of the grant money will be devoted to this kind of prevention work.
The second part of the program will provide $1 million in grants to help law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute gang members who terrorize our communities. The goal is to focus and lock up the most significant violent offenders. We want our young people to choose something better than gang life, and we need to do all we can to help them make that choice. But for those who don't, we need to let them know that we will not allow them to prey upon their neighbors who did make the right choice.
Finally, we want to ensure that offenders returning to society don't choose violence again. This part of the initiative will support reentry assistance through faith based and community providers. It includes everything from transitional housing and job placement, to substance abuse and mental health treatment -- $500,000 is available for these types of programs.
Today I want to commend the communities of Raleigh and Durham for coming together to develop the kinds of innovative programs that this funding will help support. Programs like the Adopt-a-School Initiative in Raleigh, coordinated by Another Step Forward Ministries. In this program, churches and their congregations adopt schools to provide services such as tutoring and mentoring, while promoting a drug-free, stay-in-school, no-gangs message. And programs like the Durham Criminal Justice Resource Center, which has been a leader in developing re-entry programs for those returning to Durham County from prison.
America is the greatest country in the world. No matter the circumstances of your birth, you can achieve great things when you work hard and make good choices. But in my time as a federal judge in Chicago, I saw too many people who took the wrong path. They learned a harsh lesson: There is no future in being a gang member.
I believe the efforts announced today will help protect our neighborhoods and offer young people an alternative to gang life. But none of these efforts will be enough without our local partners continuing to work together. The Department of Justice is committed to working with them in this fight, but they are the best ones to know the needs of this community and the best solutions for its unique problems. I applaud their efforts so far, and I stand ready to do all I can to help.
Together, we can help ensure that the American dream is a real possibility for all Americans.