COMPENDIUM OF PROMISING PRACTICES TO REDUCE VIOLENCE AND INCREASE SAFETY OF ABORIGINAL WOMEN IN CANADA – COMPENDIUM ANNEX: DETAILED PRACTICE DESCRIPTIONS
Alternatives to Gangs
- Program name:
Regina Anti-Gang Services (RAGS)
The North Central Community Association of Regina
- Target Group:
Aboriginal Youth involved in gangs (Male and female, ages 16 - 30), their families and partners.
- Contact Name:
306-537-2913 / 306-529-2537
The RAGS Project was begun on October 2007. The program was developed following a year long period of consultation with gang members starting in 2000. In addition, regular surveys of male and female gang members were completed at six month intervals. In 2001, the Regina Youth Justice Forum began to examine and discuss the implementation of the new Youth Criminal Justice Act in Saskatchewan. Throughout the investigation, forum members found that the majority of youth involved in the criminal justice system were also involved in gangs. It became clear that community services to prevent gang involvement and to support gang-involved youth who wanted to leave the gang lifestyle did not exist. The lack of resources and limited knowledge and expertise in the area of gang prevention was recognized and RAGS emerged as a key part of the response to these findings.
- Goals & Objectives:
To reduce criminal activities committed by young Aboriginal gang members.
- Traditional/Indigenous ways:
Aboriginal Elders are hired to participate and facilitate regular weekly cultural events and activities such as Sundances, sweat lodges. Most activities are begun with a smudging ceremony.
- Components of program:
The program provides the opportunity for Aboriginal youth to develop life skills and overcome the prejudicial effects of gangs. The Circle Keeper Program is designed specifically for female youth gang members involved in the sex trade, offering facilitated groups to assess safety needs, addictions and provide connections to support and therapeutic resources. The Gang Exit Strategy engages federal and provincial partners and builds expert knowledge on the appropriate methods of gang exit safety and programming including geographical relocation.
- Services/How they work:
Services are offered on site at the facility.
Funding for the project has come from the Department of Public Safety Canada's National Crime Prevention Centre; and the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Relationships and Stakeholders
- Involvement of Target Groups:
Gang members were interviewed and their input incorporated into the program.
Regina Police Service, Regina Board of Education, Inter Provincial Anti-Gang Programs, Saskatchewan Department of Corrections and Public Safety, Project Hope Street Nurses Organization, Regina Aids Foundation, Faith Based Organizations, federal Departments including Canadian Heritage and Service Canada
- Other relationships:
Details of Program Evaluation
An evaluation has been completed.
- Highlights of Evaluation Findings:
Results indicate that the RAGS project is reaching the intended population. A significant number of male and female gang members who had participated in the RAGS project were successful in exiting the gang and ending the gang lifestyle.
- Measures of Success:
The program's success is measured by assessing gang and/or criminal re-involvement, reduced inappropriate violent or criminal behaviour against female gang members and women, reduced incidence of sexual exploitation/intimidation and involvement as sex trade workers and pimps.
The main accomplishment of the RAGS project was the number of successful gang exits by known gang members, both male and female. Reports indicate that of the 120 – 130 gang members that have entered the RAGS project, fully 80% completed the gang exit strategy and left the street gang.
The men's program has been a difficult challenge. Although it is acknowledged that there was a reduction in violent crime, male gang members were somewhat reluctant to fully disclose their involvement in forcing women (young girls, family members, friends and acquaintances) into the sex trade. Some female gang members who successfully exited the street gang continued their involvement in the sex trade.
Things to Know to Replicate
- Replication Advice:
Yes the program can and should be replicated wherever the need exists. A comprehensive economic analysis report for the operation of the program is a necessity.
The financial cost for the implementation of the program is approximately $750,000 to $1,000,000. Staff should include gang members who were successful in exiting the street gang. Other resources should include staff with a minimum of a Bachelor of Social Work Degree.
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