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March 26, 1998     (512) 463-0300


SAN ANTONIO - The Senate's Interim Committee on Gangs and Juvenile Justice Committee met in San Antonio on Thursday, March 26, at the University of Texas at San Antonio's Downtown Campus. The committee is investigating methods of gang prevention and intervention efforts, and collaboration among law enforcement agencies, education officials and state and local juvenile justice. Committee members include Senators Royce West of Dallas, serving as chair, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Chris Harris of Arlington, Jon Lindsay of Houston, and Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth.

Invited testimony included Bandera, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio Police Departments; Bexar and Nueces County Sheriff Departments; Corpus Christi and San Antonio District and County Attorney's Offices; Corpus Christi and San Antonio Juvenile Probation Departments; San Antonio Communities in Schools and Community Youth Development Project; local area STAR (Services To At Risk youth) Providers; and various local area Youth Intervention and Prevention Program Providers.

Some of the more interesting testimony came from the City of Bandera's Police Department. The presentation, made by the police chief, several former gang members , and two officers, included a video tape of a new tattoo removal program for gang members. The voluntary program helps former gang members start a new life without the permanent markings that identified them as gang members.

The committee has held six public hearings throughout the state to hear recommendations on ways to address the growing problem of gang violence and to receive input on methods to improve the juvenile justice system in Texas. Two additional hearings are planned in Austin in July and August. The final report will be submitted in September with recommendations for the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of 1999.