EMBARGOED UNTIL 6:30 P.M. EST (3:30 PST)                       AG
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1995                        (202) 616-2777
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888

   Grass-Roots Program Has Cut Youth Crime and Violence Sharply

     LONG BEACH, CA -- Attorney General Janet Reno travelled to
Long Beach, California, today to express President Clinton's
support for the school system's attempts to increase discipline and
fight youth violence by requiring students to wear uniforms.

     The school uniform policy is credited with helping bring about
a sharp drop in crime.  According to the school district, during
the last school year, drug cases have dropped 74 percent, sex
offenses 74 percent, assault and battery cases 34 percent, and
recorded fights are down 51 percent.

     "If we are to stop a 21st century explosion in youth crime, we
have to give our local schools a chance to fight back," said Reno. 
"President Clinton believes that if uniforms can help fight school
violence, we should stand behind schools that try them -- to help
kids do the right thing, and stay gang-free and drug-free."

     "Uniforms have been a positive here in Long Beach," said local
police chief William Ellis.  "Schools have fewer reason to call the
police.  There's less conflict among students.  Students
concentrate more on education, not who's wearing $100 shoes or gang

     In 1994, the Long Beach Unified School District became the
first school district in the country to require all its students to
wear uniforms to class. The uniform is determined by each school,
and most schools require dark pants or skirts and white tops.

     The school board's policy has been challenged by the Southern
California chapter of the ACLU, despite a parental opt-out policy
chosen by one percent of the 58,000 students in the district.  The
opt-out plan permits parents to remove their students from the
uniform program.  According to school district officials, families
that cannot afford uniforms are provided them by companies,
organizations like the PTA, and individuals.

     Reno talked to students, toured the school and met with local
supporters of the school uniform policy, including Long Beach Mayor
Beverly O'Neill, Police Chief William Ellis, and Long Beach School
Superintendent Carl Cohn, Long Beach Board of Education President
Bobbie Smith.  The Long Beach policy helped spur a drive for a
statewide law effective January 1 of this year, which permits
school boards to adopt school uniform policies.  The city of
Oakland also adopted a school uniform policy at the beginning of
this school year. 

     "We have to fight youth violence every way we can," said Reno. 
"If school uniforms can help restore discipline and order, then
school boards should be free to consider them."

     "When our children and their families are afraid to go to and
from school and afraid to be in school, learning obviously suffers,
said Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley.  "It is critical that
we continue to do everything we can to ensure that schools provide
a secure environment."

     The Administration has taken many other steps to fight youth
violence and protect school safety:

         Gun Free School Zones Act:  The President has submitted
          legislation to correct a Supreme Court decision that
          invalidated the Act, and called for vigorous enforcement. 
          Passed in 1990, the Act prohibits bringing guns on school

         COPS Youth Firearms Violence Initiative:   As part of its
          program to put 100,000 police on America's streets, the
          Justice Department's COPS office is awarding up to $1
          million grants to 10 police departments to develop
          community policing efforts that target youth gun

         Prosecuting Hardened Young Criminals as Adults:  Last
          year's crime bill provided discretionary authority to
          prosecute hardened young criminals, 13-years-old and
          above, as adults for serious violent offenses.

         Boot Camps: Under the crime bill, $21 million was
          provided in fiscal year 1995 states and localities are
          provided with funds to place young offenders in programs
          to instill discipline, routine, and respect for

         Youth Handgun Safety Act:  The 1994 Crime Act makes it a
          federal offense for persons under 18 to own a handgun. 
          The Office of Justice Programs is also assisting states
          that seek to enact similar bans.

         Safe and Drug Free Schools Program:  This program funds
          to virtually every school district in the country to make
          their schools safe, disciplined and drug free.  

         Community Schools Program:  A crime bill formula grant,
          totaling more than $20 million in fiscal year 1995, helps
          communities provide supervised after-school, weekend and
          summer programs for at-risk young people.

     The Department of Justice last year filed an amicus brief
supporting an Oregon school district's random drug testing of
student athletes, designed to help deal with drug problems in

     Reno toured other local programs designed to curb youth
violence.  She met with middle school and high school students with
the group "Youth Choosing Peace," as well as students with the
"90805 Group," formed after the death of a fellow student.