County gets money for gang prevention, graffiti removal

A new grant will fund a gang prevention curriculum and the development of a gang graffiti removal program, county officials said.

The $31,379 Juvenile Accountability Block Grant, awarded by the Oregon Youth Development Council, will provide money to support gang intervention lessons from the Phoenix New Freedom Gang Intervention Curriculum and a half-time supervisor who will oversee graffiti removal around Jackson County.

"This is the first true gang curriculum that I've found that is evidence-based and really focuses on the gang element," said Joe Ferguson, deputy director for Jackson County Juvenile Justice Services.

The classroom materials address peer pressure, risk factors of joining a gang, the reasons youth feel the need to join, critical problem solving, and safer alternatives to the gang lifestyle.

"Those are kind of the core pieces," Ferguson said.

Program officials said the graffiti removal will expand an ongoing agreement they already have with Medford police. Youth in the juvenile justice system currently do graffiti cleanup within the Medford city limits.

"We're going to hit the more outlying areas," Ferguson said, adding White City will be a key target for graffiti removal.

The funds also will be used to purchase an enclosed utility trailer to carry graffiti removal equipment.

Youth involved in the program will meet three times a week, twice in the classroom and once during graffiti-removal outings. All together, 12 youth will go through the program, staggered in groups of four that will complete the program in four-month sessions.

The grant provides funding through April 1, 2014.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved the grant today.

— Ryan Pfeil

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