The ACLU of Southern California applauds the Los Angeles City Council for today's 9 to 1 vote in opposition to the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Initiative (Prop 21) that will appear on the March 2000 ballot. We agree with the council that the measure "would enact an overly punitive approach to juvenile crime. Punishment is significantly emphasized over rehabilitation, thereby having devastating effects on high-risk youth."

Today's vote is an important first step in the ultimate defeat of this initiative. We believe that Californians who understand the devastating effects this measure will have on our young people will echo the resounding "NO" sounded by the Los Angeles City Council. The Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Initiative is not about prevention. Instead, it wages a costly war against California's children. Prop 21 pushes more children into adult courts where they would be sentenced to adult prisons. It vastly expands gang penalties, including the death penalty, and promises to cost California taxpayers "hundreds of millions of dollars" each year, according to the California Legislative Analyst Office Report, taking funds away from funds that could be used to improve our schools.

We urge all Californians to join the community, faith and professional organizations that oppose Proposition 21 and stop this mean-spirited, misguided and ill-advised attack on our youth.