US Legislation and Policies
Central American gangs are a transnational issue which requires a coordinated, international approach in addition to the national strategies of each individual country. From the U.S. standpoint, a comprehensive youth gang violence initiative is not necessarily a high-dollar initiative; it is a coordinated, visible effort to use a variety of U.S. resources, from a variety of agencies, to encourage and assist Central American governments in developing comprehensive approaches that include effective, rights-respecting policing, prevention, and rehabilitation programs. Additionally, the U.S. government should promote these same priorities in domestic and foreign policy legislation related to youth gangs. WOLA is advocating for comprehensive legislation that will address the security concerns created by gang violence (through intervention, responsible policing, and rehabilitation programs) while also addressing the root causes of the problem (through prevention programs). Legislation that focuses only on punitive measures against gang members or on suppressive policing techniques are not helpful and often, have proven to make the problem worse.