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(Washington, D.C.)  Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she included report language accompanying the Fiscal Year 2015 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill that will require the Department of Justice to review the criteria by which it awards grants relating to gang violence and prevention. This language comes after Sen. Murray has been increasingly concerned that communities like Yakima are not getting the federal funding they need to combat gang-related violence.

“As gang violence continues to escalate in Yakima, we must ensure that the county, city, local law enforcement and prevention programs have the resources they need to continue combating violence now and working to prevent it in the future,” said Senator Murray. “It is essential that communities like Yakima receive the federal support they need to effectively combat gang violence.  This language directs the Department of Justice to reevaluate the criteria it uses to award gang violence and prevention funding, to ensure that grant dollars are flowing to the communities, like Yakima, that need them the most.”

“The communities of Yakima County have for too long waged an uphill battle in confronting violent crime and gang activity in the region,” said Yakima County Commissioner Kevin Bouchey. “Combatting the magnitude of serious crime we face requires a true partnership across all levels of government and we greatly appreciate Senator Murray's tireless efforts to continue to secure federal resources that support our local law enforcement in prevention, suppression, and intervention.” 

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. Sen. 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. Sen. 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.