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Tackling Florida’s Growing Gang Problem

October 25th, 2007 by flanews

As the overall crime rate drops, new numbers from the Department of Corrections show gang related felony convictions in Florida have gone up about 60 percent.  The state attorney general and leaders from several law enforcement agencies unveiled a strategy to deal with the problem.  As Chris Casquejo tells us, a former gang member wants to do his part to help.

Hear it here: Tackling Florida’s Growing Gang Problem

It’s not often you see a former Crips gang member at the state Capitol.   Doc Bailey came to share his story.  Growing up without a dad, a friend who Doc believed was more like a brother introduced him to the fast lifestyle at age 11.

“He had money.  He kept money,” Bailey said.  “He had the finer things at the time.  You know, he was well dressed.’

Statewide numbers show a sharp increase in gang-related convictions.  In 2005, gang members were convicted in 2,700 felonies. Last year, that number shot up to 4,400.  For Doc Bailey, a close call with gunfire turned him away for good.

“We’re in the car, ducked down in the floor board a little bit,” he said.  “My car got shot up.  My windows got busted up.  And I had a bullet in my headrest.”

As of July of this year, the Department of Corrections identified more than 4,400 gang members currently behind bars.  Of that number, more than 1,200 are under the age of 24.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced the creation of a new group made up of several state law enforcement agencies to help fight gangs.

“Our vision for Florida is a state that’s free of gangs,”  McCollum said.  “We may not ever to be able to achieve that 100 percent.  But I’m here to tell you, 1,500 or whatever the number is, is way too many.

Doc Bailey carries that message further.

“You join a gang.  You no longer have your freedom,” Bailey said.

Now, Bailey hopes to be the father to his own kids that he never had.

You can find Florida’s new gang prevention website at www.safeflorida.net/safestreets 

Posted in Criminal Justice, McCollum, State News | 1 Comment »

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