This effort is a coordinated activity with the Austin Police Department to extend and enhance gang prevention and rehabilitative efforts. The Austin Police Department has identified 98 known youth gang members in Austin, with a particular focus on the part of town referred to as Rundberg, a 6-square-mile area in north Austin where less than 5% of Austin’s population lives but according to APD 11% of the city’s violent crime and 7% of its property crime occur. Unemployment is as high as 14 percent in some parts of the neighborhood and 95 percent of the area’s students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Dr. David Springer will lead a small team of expert consultants and interviewers to conduct interviewers with the identified youth. The purpose of the face-to-face interviews is three-fold:
- Assess the pathways youth took to join the gangs.
- Examine their experiences in the gangs.
- Explore with each youth potential effective exit strategies out of the gangs, including education, training, and employment opportunities.
Based on findings, Dr. Springer will identify assessment services for documented juvenile gang members situated in the Austin, Travis County and provide social services referrals as appropriate. Additionally, he will recommend juvenile justice improvements at the city and county levels and will assist local law enforcement with restructuring the Austin/Travis County Gang Intervention Team and Advisory Board.