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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 22, 1998

Promoting Values and Fighting Crime

July 22, 1998

Recognizing the important role that civic, community, and faith-based organizations can play in reducing crime, President Clinton today will unveil a new Values-Based Violence Prevention Initiative. The Justice Department will make $2.2 million in grants available to 16 community-based collaboratives, including religiously-affiliated organizations, that target youth violence, gangs, truancy, and other juvenile problems by promoting common-sense values and responsibility.

Value-Based Violence Prevention

Building on the Boston model. The Values-Based Initiative stems from the successful approach taken in Boston, where local law enforcement joined forces with preachers and other faith organizations to protect youth from violence and give them alternatives to crime. The whole community -- including local and federal prosecutors, probation officers, police, social service workers and neighborhood ministers -- worked together to combat gangs and prevent juvenile crime. The result: juvenile crime plummeted and youth homicides with firearms came to a halt.

Linking stronger values to less violence. Values are a strong predictor of violent crime. The initial findings of a long-term study on violence in Chicago neighborhoods showed that communities with a strong sense of shared values, reinforced in children by adults, had 40 percent less crime than other communities. In fact, a community's willingness to work together to reinforce good behaviors and maintain order was a better predictor of crime rates than any other factor, including poverty or race.

A comprehensive response to youth violence. The Values-Based Initiative builds on existing Administration efforts to reduce juvenile crime. Cities taking part in this initiative are already participating in the President's Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, Anti-Gang COPS initiative, and Justice's Weed and Seed program. Today's initiative will help more cities replicate the Boston model by enhancing these efforts with the involvement of community-based groups, including religiously-affiliated organizations, to reach out to at-risk youth, instill values, and thereby improve public safety.

Expanding partnerships in 16 cities. The initiative will provide grants of $135,000 for gang intervention, truancy prevention, mentoring, drug and alcohol abuse, conflict resolution, job training, and other activities. The 16 cities selected for the demonstration are: Salinas, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Washington, DC; Miami, FL; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Baltimore, MD; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO; Hempstead, NY; Portland, OR; Philadelphia, PA; Charleston, SC; San Antonio, TX; Richmond, VA; and Seattle, WA.

Fighting for a Tough, Smart Juvenile Crime Bill

President Clinton continues to call on Congress to enact his Anti-Gang and Youth Violence Strategy, to allow more communities to achieve Boston's success in attacking juvenile crime. The President's strategy includes funds for prosecutors, courts, and probation officers to promote and enforce tough standards for juveniles, as well as funds for community-based anti-gang prevention efforts.

Order of Speakers:
Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder
Boston Police Commissioner Paul Evans
Reverend Anthony Lewis, Senior Pastor

Metropolitan Wesley AME Zion Church, Washington, DC
President Clinton