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YAKIMA: Murray’s Anti-Gang Language Included in Final 2015 Spending Bill

Dec 10 2014

Murray language will help communities like Yakima access federal support, grants to prevent and fight gang violence

Murray: “I heard from local families and law enforcement in Yakima who told me how important it was for them to get federal support to combat and prevent gang violence, and I went back to Washington, D.C. to make sure that their voices were heard”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that the 2015 annual federal spending bill will include language she wrote to address concerns that communities like Yakima are not getting the federal funding they need to combat gang-related violence.  The language, which was first written by Senator Murray earlier this year, will require the Department of Justice to review the criteria by which it awards grants relating to gang violence and prevention.  In recent months, community and law enforcement leaders in the Yakima area have raised concerns to Senator Murray that they are not getting the federal funding they need to address gang-related violence.  The bill is expected to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate in the coming days and be signed into law.

The 2015 omnibus appropriations bill was made possible by the bipartisan budget deal that Senator Murray reached last December with U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that prevented another government shutdown, rolled back cuts to investments in education, research, and jobs—and restored certainty to the federal budget process. 

“I fought hard for this language to help communities like Yakima access the federal resources they need to fight gang violence and keep local families safe, and I am proud that it was included in this bipartisan House-Senate compromise bill,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I heard from local families and law enforcement in Yakima who told me how important it was for them to get federal support to combat and prevent gang violence, and I went back to Washington, D.C. to make sure that their voices were heard and their priorities were represented as this bill was written.”

Gang-related violence has been a growing problem in Yakima County and across the state in recent years, and law enforcement agencies continue to express concern that it may become even more difficult for them to fight this source of crime. Senator Murray’s previous work on the Yakima Gang Initiative has already led to important local anti-gang efforts, including funding for the Yakima Gang Commission. Senator Murray continues to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to increase federal anti-gang resources for communities, like Yakima, with gang activity and violent crime rates exceeding the national average.

Full text of the language included in the bill below:

Gang Prevention Grants and Crime Rates--The Committee remains concerned about gang activity and violent crime throughout the country, noting that Federal partnership with law enforcement is essential-not only in our largest cities, but also in suburban and rural jurisdictions, where gang activity and violent crime rates exceed national averages. To strengthen Federal partnership across all jurisdictions, the Committee directs the OJP to review the criteria by which OJP awards discretionary grants relating to gang violence and prevention under the State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance and Juvenile Justice Programs on a per capita basis, of applicant cities and jurisdictions where gang activity and violent crime rates exceed national averages. The Committee encourages the OJP to report on the relative success rate of awards granted to applicant cities and jurisdictions with disproportionately high gang and violent crime activity, including the murder rates of those cities and jurisdictions. The report should also consider the relative success rate of applicant cities and jurisdictions that have an established gang commission or community planning body, have completed the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP] gang assessment, and have consulted with or received technical assistance from the OJJDP National Gang Center regarding gang initiatives in the community.