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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Gang Issues Up as ‘Boston Miracle’ Fades

Posted Jul 19, 2007 3:45 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Back in the 1990s, Sinbad from the X-men, the Mayor from Castlegate, and Butch from Intervale were hailed as critical components of the "Boston Miracle," an innovative crime-fighting effort featuring former gang members that was credited with an almost unbelievable 80-percent reduction in the city's homicide rate during the '90s.

But today, as gang crime soars, the current program is a sad relic of what it once was, reports the Boston Globe in a lengthy feature article. Funding cuts have drastically reduced the number of so-called street workers patrolling problem areas to form relationships with residents and proselytize them about the benefits of law-abiding behavior. Meanwhile, the remaining troops are virtually prohibited by union rules from doing so after 9 p.m., when many gang members can be seen on the city's streets.

Audrey Brown Perkins, the mother of a 20-year-old killed in gang warfare a year ago, was among the residents approached recently in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood by group of men in navy T-shirts with "STREETWORKER" stenciled on the back, as she sat on the front stoop of her well-maintained three-decker. It was the first time she had seen any street workers, and she wanted to know why she wasn't seeing a lot more of them.

"You need to be here," Perkins told the men, explaining that she fears her 8-year-old son will become another victim. "We need you here."

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