Panamá’s Safe Neighborhoods program fights gangs with enforcement and rehabilitation

first_img“We are attacking gang culture in two ways: first, by extending a helping hand to any youth that wants to join a rehabilitation and reintegration process,” Aguilera said. “We will support those youths with psychological tools, and provide vocational and basic training so that they can become rehabilitated and reenter society by obtaining decent employment. On the other hand, gang members who continue to be involved in illegal activities will be held responsible for all the crimes they commit, to the fullest extent of the law.” “When they join the program, the members are required to undergo psychosocial evaluation before beginning basic and vocational education, which will allow them subsequently to have a chance to gain employment,” Aguilera said. “The youths [in the program] must make a commitment to abandon their weapons and their life of crime. The government, in turn, has contacts within private companies and in the public sector who have proven willing to hire [former gang members] and to give them a chance in society.” “With the establishment of this task force, the President is sending a clear message to these gang members to abandon their activities,” Aguilera added. The response has been strong. As of mid-November, 2,000 former gang members have joined the program, according the Minister for Public Security Rodolfo Aguilera. Some of the former gang members who joined the initiative turned in 200 weapons. The Ministry of Public Security (Minseg) formed five commissions, comprised of public servants, civilians, evangelical pastors, and members of NGOs, to collect the weapons. “We are attacking gang culture in two ways: first, by extending a helping hand to any youth that wants to join a rehabilitation and reintegration process,” Aguilera said. “We will support those youths with psychological tools, and provide vocational and basic training so that they can become rehabilitated and reenter society by obtaining decent employment. On the other hand, gang members who continue to be involved in illegal activities will be held responsible for all the crimes they commit, to the fullest extent of the law.” Job training, sports, and cultural activities “When they join the program, the members are required to undergo psychosocial evaluation before beginning basic and vocational education, which will allow them subsequently to have a chance to gain employment,” Aguilera said. “The youths [in the program] must make a commitment to abandon their weapons and their life of crime. The government, in turn, has contacts within private companies and in the public sector who have proven willing to hire [former gang members] and to give them a chance in society.” Panamá President Juan Carlos Varela’s administration is taking aim at gangs with a two-pronged strategy that includes strong law enforcement efforts with rehabilitation initiatives and social integration opportunities for those who wish to reject a life of crime. Congratulations to our heroes. The police struggle against the gangs is important, but even more important is to overcome the social inequalities produced by these gangs.. The effort being made in several countries is praiseworthy. I hope something like this is done in Honduras. The Panamanian model is effective, Job training, sports, and cultural activities Safe Neighborhoods is aimed at the 192 gangs which have a total of 5,000 members operating in Panamá. These gang members are between the ages of 8 and 29 years old, according to the National Integrated Criminal Statistics System (SIEC). They engage in homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping, theft, and extortion, and many of these gangs fight each other for control of specific neighborhoods throughout the country. One of the groups working to help former gangsters rehabilitate themselves and find honest employment is the Jesús Luz de Oportunidades Foundation. For six years, the organization has provided rehabilitation and re-socialization services for gang members in Santa Ana, El Chorrillo, Curundú, San Felipe, and Avenida Ancón. To encourage gang members to leave behind these criminal activities, the Safe Neighborhoods program is providing social assistance to at-risk young people, such as $50 in food coupons per week, job training; and sports, cultural, and spiritual activities. The program is concentrated in regions with the highest levels of gang activity, such as the provinces of Colón, Chiriquí, Panamá Oeste (Arraiján and La Chorrera); and the districts of San Miguelito, Panamá Este and Centro. center_img Safe Neighborhoods is aimed at the 192 gangs which have a total of 5,000 members operating in Panamá. These gang members are between the ages of 8 and 29 years old, according to the National Integrated Criminal Statistics System (SIEC). They engage in homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping, theft, and extortion, and many of these gangs fight each other for control of specific neighborhoods throughout the country. One of the groups working to help former gangsters rehabilitate themselves and find honest employment is the Jesús Luz de Oportunidades Foundation. For six years, the organization has provided rehabilitation and re-socialization services for gang members in Santa Ana, El Chorrillo, Curundú, San Felipe, and Avenida Ancón. Regarding enforcement, the initiative brings together 15,000 members of the security forces, who collectively form the Anti-Gang Task Force. The task force coordinates the efforts of units of the National Police, the National Border Protection Service, the National Aeronautical Service, and the anti-gang division of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation of the National Police. Regarding enforcement, the initiative brings together 15,000 members of the security forces, who collectively form the Anti-Gang Task Force. The task force coordinates the efforts of units of the National Police, the National Border Protection Service, the National Aeronautical Service, and the anti-gang division of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation of the National Police. To encourage gang members to leave behind these criminal activities, the Safe Neighborhoods program is providing social assistance to at-risk young people, such as $50 in food coupons per week, job training; and sports, cultural, and spiritual activities. The program is concentrated in regions with the highest levels of gang activity, such as the provinces of Colón, Chiriquí, Panamá Oeste (Arraiján and La Chorrera); and the districts of San Miguelito, Panamá Este and Centro. The “Safe Neighborhoods with more Opportunities and a Firm Hand” program was launched on July 1, when Varela was sworn into office. The new president publicly announced a month-long amnesty period for gang members to voluntarily surrender their weapons. He encouraged gang members who wanted to change their lives to join the program. Safe Neighborhoods is also open to delinquents who are not affiliated with a gang. The “Safe Neighborhoods with more Opportunities and a Firm Hand” program was launched on July 1, when Varela was sworn into office. The new president publicly announced a month-long amnesty period for gang members to voluntarily surrender their weapons. He encouraged gang members who wanted to change their lives to join the program. Safe Neighborhoods is also open to delinquents who are not affiliated with a gang. Panamá President Juan Carlos Varela’s administration is taking aim at gangs with a two-pronged strategy that includes strong law enforcement efforts with rehabilitation initiatives and social integration opportunities for those who wish to reject a life of crime. By Dialogo November 25, 2014 “With the establishment of this task force, the President is sending a clear message to these gang members to abandon their activities,” Aguilera added. The response has been strong. As of mid-November, 2,000 former gang members have joined the program, according the Minister for Public Security Rodolfo Aguilera. Some of the former gang members who joined the initiative turned in 200 weapons. The Ministry of Public Security (Minseg) formed five commissions, comprised of public servants, civilians, evangelical pastors, and members of NGOs, to collect the weapons. last_img read more

BLOG: Protecting Pennsylvania’s Consumers

first_imgRead more agency year in review blog posts.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf By: Teresa Miller, Insurance Commissioner SHARE Email Facebook Twitter BLOG: Protecting Pennsylvania’s Consumerscenter_img January 13, 2016 Efficiency,  Government That Works,  The Blog,  Year in Review Since taking office, Governor Wolf and I have set consumer protection as the Insurance Department’s top priority. A big part of helping consumers is letting them know that we are here as a resource for them, and under Governor Wolf’s direction, we have substantially increased our consumer outreach.There were many times throughout 2015 where Governor Wolf and I took an active stand in order to put consumers first and protect them from future harm.Keeping Rates LowI’m also very proud of the work done by my department in reviewing individual and small group health insurance rates this year to ensure that we balanced the needs of the companies involved without placing too much burden on consumers through drastic rate increases. My department was able to save Pennsylvania’s consumers nearly $81 million – an outcome that wasn’t the case in all other states. I’m glad we can tell that story here.CHIPShortly after taking office, we addressed an issue where families enrolled in the full-cost CHIP program were facing tax penalties, because these plans did not meet minimum essential coverage standards dictated by the Affordable Care Act. We worked quickly to bring these plans up to MEC standards and obtained waivers so these families would avoid the tax penalty. Under the direction of Governor Wolf, we brought the remaining CHIP plans up to MEC standards so that more than 150,000 Pennsylvania children enrolled in the program could enjoy improved benefits and coverage standards.Highmark/UPMCThe Insurance Department is also continuing to play a role in protecting consumers affected by the consent decrees signed by Highmark and UPMC in 2014. My department supported Governor Wolf’s decision to go to court in order to protect the access of more than 180,000 seniors in western Pennsylvania to the doctors and hospitals of their choice, by requiring UPMC to stay in Highmark’s Medicare Advantage program, consistent with the terms of the consent decrees.Saving Consumers MoneyAway from the health side, we’ve taken a stand against unfair pricing tactics like the “widow’s penalty” and price optimization – a practice that occurs when insurers consider factors unrelated to expected losses and expenses, such as a customer’s likelihood to shop around for a better price, when setting rates. I issued notices to insurers to remind them that these practices are unfairly discriminatory and my department will not authorize rates that impose costs where additional risk can’t be proven.We’re also continuing to pursue other consumer protection issues, including surprise balance billing, which occurs when patients receive a bill for a service received at an in-network facility with an in-network provider but encounter an out-of-network provider at some point during care.What’s Next?These accomplishments demonstrate the Wolf Administration’s strong commitment to putting consumers first through increasing access to health insurance, ensuring consumers are treated fairly by companies, and educating the public on issues so consumers have the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.As we move into 2016, we’re going to continue to focus on finding solutions to issues that affect consumers every day.Find Us OnlineOver the summer, we revamped the Insurance Department website to make it much more user-friendly, and we’re making good use of this new platform to reach and educate consumers. We regularly update it with consumer alerts focused on seasonal tips or issues we hear of from consumers, and we’re producing more educational content, such as our videos and shopper’s guide to using and purchasing health insurance, to help consumers make educated and empowered choices.We’ve also joined social media, so head over to Facebook.com/PAInsuranceDepartment or follow us on Twitter @PAInsuranceDept.We’re going to work to become a more visible force in communities around the commonwealth. I want Pennsylvania consumers to know that we’re here as a resource and to connect with consumers in their own environments, and I strongly encourage you to contact us if you have any issues or concerns via our Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388 or through our contact form at insurance.pa.govlast_img read more