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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tuesday - April 5, 2005

Project Safe Neighborhoods Launches a New Media Campaign to Prevent Gun Crime:
Public Service Advertising (PSA) Campaign warns criminals of the impact of illegal gun use

RALEIGH - Acting United States Attorney George E. B. Holding announced that the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Ad Council and the Mullen advertising agency, recently launched new public service advertisements created on behalf of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), an initiative designed to reduce gun crime nationwide. Building on the momentum of the first series of PSAs launched for the campaign in 2003, this new set of TV, print, and radio advertising delivers a strong message about gun crimes and their consequences. Project Safe Neighborhoods is continuing its aggressive community outreach campaign to prevent and deter gun crime with this new advertisement campaign.

The new PSAs help reinforce PSN's strong message about responsibility and accountability, and realistically illustrate the emotional and psychological "prison" to which a family is sentenced when a loved one is incarcerated.

Acting U. S. Attorney Holding said, "These ads demonstrate how gun crime affects not only offenders, but their families as well. Through these ads, we hope to deter potential offenders from committing gun crime in the first instance. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our colleagues in the community, our religious leaders, and our local schools to actively reinforce the strong message of 'Gun Crime = Hard Time.'" He added, "We are working tirelessly to turn our neighborhoods back over to law abiding citizens. Since 2001, this initiative has generated 732 convictions in the Eastern District of North Carolina."

The nationwide multi-media campaign will focus on key media outlets throughout the district, as well as other state and national media markets across the country. It includes print, radio, and TV PSAs designed to educate offenders and their families about the serious consequences of gun crime. All of the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space donated by the media.

The PSA campaign is a simple and direct warning to would-be criminals: When you go to jail for a gun crime, your family pays a price. It is really that straightforward--gun crime means hard time for you and your loved ones. This advertising campaign reaffirms the Justice Department's commitment to create safe neighborhoods for our children and their families, and includes print advertising, a TV spot called "Family Prison," and radio PSAs called "Mirror" and "I Can Do Anything." The PSA campaign specifically targets at-risk youth (ages 14-25) and their families and will be distributed nationwide.

PSN - National Scope, Local Impact

Project Safe Neighborhoods is the Bush Administration's initiative to combat gun crime. By linking together federal, state, and local law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders, PSN provides a multi-faceted approach to prevent and prosecute gun crime. While national in scope, each community's PSN task force is working to design and implement a local approach to combat the unique gun crime problem that area faces. Prosecutors pursue the strongest possible punishment for those who violate firearms statutes. Community partners, through services and resources provided by PSN, work to prevent gun violence before it occurs through such efforts as aggressively educating their constituents and at-risk youth about the consequences of gun crime. To date, the Administration has dedicated over $1 billion to support this initiative.

This increased focus on gun crime is showing results. Since PSN's inception in 2001, federal prosecutions of gun crimes have increased 76%. At the same time, violent crime rates have plunged to a 30-year low. In the Eastern District of North Carolina, there has been a 7% decrease in the violent crime rate from 2002 to 2003. The data for 2004 has not yet been released, but based on the number of prosecutions, the expectation is that the violent crime rate will continue to decline.

As a result of the district-wide and local partnerships PSN has developed with local community leaders, eight localized PSN sites have been established in the Eastern District.

PSN Partners in the District: U. S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U. S. Probation Office, N. C. Department of Correction, N. C. State Bureau of Investigation

PSN Partners in Raleigh - Project T.R.A.C. - Targeting Armed Criminals: Wake County District Attorney's Office, Raleigh Police Department, Wake County Sheriff's Office, Passage Home, Wake County Department of Health and Human Services

PSN Partners in Fayetteville - Operation CeaseFire: Cumberland County District Attorney's Office, Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, Fayetteville Police Department, Annaho & Co.

PSN Partners in Greenville - Operation J.A.C. - Jailing Armed Criminals: Pitt County District Attorney's Office, Pitt County Sheriff's Office, Greenville Police Department

PSN Partners in Johnston County - Project Guns Down!: Johnston County Sheriff's Office

PSN Partners in Wilmington - Operation Ceasefire: New Hanover County District Attorney's Office, New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, Wilmington Police Department

PSN Partners in New Bern - Operation Zero Tolerance: Craven County Sheriff's Office, New Bern Police Department

PSN Partners in Lumberton: Lumberton Police Department

PSN Partners in Wilson: Wilson County Sheriff's Office, Wilson Police Department

The Bush Administration devoted more than $1 billion to PSN during its first four years (FY 2001 - FY 2004). These funds have been used to hire new federal, state, and local prosecutors; provide training; hire research and community outreach support; and develop and promote effective prevention and deterrence efforts. The Eastern District of North Carolina received over $1,750,000.00 during this time.

National Crime Statistics

The per-capita number of violent crimes involving firearms has dropped 24 percent since the start of the Bush Administration, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). BJS also reports that there were approximately 254,000 fewer gun crimes in the first three years of the Bush Administration (2001-2003) than in 1998-2000 (the three years prior).

There were approximately 21 percent (almost 363,000) fewer victims of gun crimes in the three-year period of 2001-2003 than in the prior three-year period (1998-2000), according to BJS.

Local Crime Statistics

Federal prosecutions of firearm violations have increased dramatically over the past three years.

Cases filed Defendants Convicted

FY 2001 108 129

FY 2002 155 191

FY 2003 282 334

FY 2004 272 314

The Eastern District of North Carolina has an excellent record of sentences imposed for federal firearms charges. In FY 2003, 79% of all firearms convictions received a sentence of three years or more, and 65% received a sentence of five years or more. In FY 2004, 81.2% of firearms convictions received a sentence of three years or more, and 61.9% received a sentence of five years or more. For more information, please visit http://www.psn.gov to preview the spots, or for additional information about this important initiative.

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News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney's web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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