Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Brentwood today to sign legislation authorizing the expenditure of more than $18 million to assist Long Island communities plagued by gang violence.
Cuomo said that he supported the legislation because, while law enforcement was important, the state needed to stop the pipeline of children into the gangs. He said that expending money to prevent gang recruitment was as important as arresting criminal members of the gangs. It was important to “get ahead of the problem” of children entering the gangs, rather than only concentrating on arresting young people after they entered the gang, the governor told the crowd of more than two hundred at the Brentwood Recreation Center. “Instead of just treating the disease, let’s prevent the disease,” he said.
“Let’s reach out to the young person early on so that they never fall into the gang web to begin with,” said the governor. Cuomo said that the funds would be used to help the schools aid recently arrived immigrant children, as well as providing after school programs and job training. The governor also pledged to provide funding for mental health services for children who had fled horrific conditions in their home countries, and gang intervention programs.
Cuomo said that this program was an investment in youth. Ultimately it will save tax dollars he said. “Incarceration costs 40,000 per year per person, and more is spent upon release,” and he said this would reduce arrests.
Assemblyman Phil Ramos, who co-sponsored the legislation with State Senator Phil Boyle, said that helping children with post-traumatic stress is a key to good outcomes. He said that resources to help the victims of gang violence and recruitment will also be provided to communities in Nassau and Suffolk under his legislation. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also spoke, along with Sen. Boyle.