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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 26, 2009 at 2:07 PM

Gangs: Experts teach Seattle a consistent approach

Fighting violence with clarity, not severity

Editor, The Times:

I’d like to correct a fundamental misrepresentation of my work in the article “Innovators visit Seattle to describe ways that work to cut gang violence” [NWThursday, June 25]. I do not rely on “swift and severe” punishment to direct gang members away from violence.

The approach of which I am part relies on strong standard setting by the community itself, the provision of safe ways off the street for gang members who wish that option and — when those steps fail — the understanding that serious violence will bring consequences. Those consequences need not be severe; frequently, simply putting gang members on notice of what they in fact face is sufficient. Clarity and consistency, not severity, is what matters.

Even gang members look both ways before they cross the street.

— David M. Kennedy, Center for Crime Prevention and Control director, New York City

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