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Craig Watkins: Ganging Up on Crime

In The New York Times today is a piece about how Los Angeles' attempt to crack down on gangs and gang-related crime just ain't working. Turns out, that city's myriad laws -- among them, ones that "prohibit public gatherings of two or more people suspected of being gang members; establish databases to track gang members; deploy broad sweeps of suspects; and lengthen prison sentences for gang-related crimes" -- are just making problems there worse. So, says Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins in the story, Dallas is going to ditch similar laws for something else:

In Dallas, Mr. Watkins has instructed prosecutors to be increasingly selective when seeking prison sentences against young gang members who may benefit from rehabilitation programs. In June, the Texas Legislature approved $273 million for new prisons, but also $203 million for drug treatment and rehabilitation programs.

“In Texas, we tried to lock gang members up and not worry about them anymore,” Mr. Watkins said. “Now we want to lock them up, but we want to fix them.”

Unfair Park tried to reach the district attorney this afternoon for a few more specifics, but he was unavailable, as he's prepping for a 3 p.m. press conference concerning Watkins' request to stay the execution of Joseph Lave. His media relations folks say he'll call back later, so look for updates, if you're so inclined. --Robert Wilonsky

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