Mr. Speaker, I rise today to implore the federal government in the strongest possible terms to renew and extend the funding for the youth gang prevention fund, scheduled to end this March. Spending billions of dollars on new prisons while eliminating funding for these successful crime prevention measures gives a whole new meaning to the term “penny wise and pound foolish”. It is a false economy that defies reason, logic, and common sense.
We know that we can steer at-risk youth away from the crime and the violence of street gang life if we intervene at an early stage. These programs provide mentorship, job and life skills, recreation and, most importantly, a clean, safe and healthy place to go, in contrast to the streets. Programs like Circle of Courage, Project O.A.S.I.S., Turning the Tides, the West Central Youth Outreach Project, and Just TV are small, effective programs that show proven results in helping at-risk youth stay out of destructive gang life.
For the cost of keeping just one inmate in prison for one year, any one of these programs could continue. I urge the government to listen to common sense and extend the funding for the youth gang prevention fund.