Scranton Schools and U.S. Attorney’s Office Team Up to Counter Rising Gang Influence

Gang crime© ChrisSteer from Getty Images Signature / Canva

SCRANTON, PA — Amid alarming increases in gang activity and recruitment in local schools, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Pennsylvania, led by U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam, partnered with the Scranton School District to host an anti-gang program this past Thursday. The event, which reached over 2,000 students from grades 7 through 12, aimed to shine a light on the harsh realities and dangerous consequences of gang membership.

The initiative was held at the school district’s auditorium and broadcast to classrooms, ensuring maximum reach. It brought together subject matter experts from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.

These experts debunked the myth of gang membership, dispelling the oft-believed “big lie” that gangs offer protection, family, and loyalty. Instead, they drew attention to the destructive path that often follows those who join these criminal associations.

Notably, during the discussion, the speakers emphasized the array of robust legal tools accessible to law enforcement agencies to effectively prosecute individuals who knowingly join unlawful associations. These tools encompass federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and VICAR (Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering) statutes, both of which are accompanied by stringent penalties and repercussions.

In addition to highlighting potential legal consequences, the program also directed students toward resources to help them escape violence and danger. A crucial message echoed throughout the event was the importance of vigilance; if students see something, they should say something. This advice is part of a broader goal to safeguard students, their families, and communities and prevent harm.

This anti-gang program is not just a singular event but a pivotal component of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive nationwide initiative that brings together law enforcement agencies and local communities to collaboratively address the pressing issues of violent crime and gun violence. By fostering partnerships and implementing targeted strategies, PSN aims to create safer neighborhoods and build a more resilient society against criminal activities.

U.S. Attorney Karam emphasized the importance of these educational efforts, saying, “As our schools have seen an increase in gang activity and recruitment, it is an important priority to educate students on the risks and consequences of joining a gang. Our goal is to bring that awareness to students, and we are grateful to have strong partnerships with the school district and our law enforcement partners to support this objective.”

The implications of this anti-gang initiative are far-reaching. As local schools grapple with burgeoning gang activity, these targeted educational programs can provide students with a crucial understanding of the dangers associated with gang involvement. By equipping students with knowledge and resources, authorities hope to stem the tide of gang recruitment and foster safer school environments and communities across Scranton.

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