Friday, April 1, 2016

Mayor Barry releases six-point plan to end youth violence

Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Thursday, the co-chairs of the Youth Violence Summit, Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway and Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, presented their findings from the five Summits to Mayor Megan Barry, along with recommended actions that the city can take to reduce youth violence.

“I appreciate the Summit Co-Chairs for helping to produce this report and putting together the recommended actions, which I will review with my team over the coming weeks,” said Mayor Barry. “We’re going to see how we can strengthen existing programs and create new ones where necessary to connect youth to hope and to opportunity.”

“I’m excited about the fact that today we are getting ready to save some lives, we are getting ready to change some lives,” said Criminal Court Clerk Gentry. “Over the past few months, we’ve had the important discussions that we needed to have; now it’s time for action, and I look forward to working with Mayor Barry to make it happen.”

“I’m committed to this cause for somewhat selfish reasons, I’m ready to retire early,” joked Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway. “I want to retire because we’ve put in place the programs and policies that are needed to put an end to youth crime and violence and make my job obsolete. We’re ready to stop talking the talk, and start walking the walk.”

The report includes a summary of the findings and lessons learned over the course of the five Summit meetings and lays out six goals, with accompanying signs of success and recommended actions, which were presented to the Mayor:

  • Training & Employment - All youth have the opportunity to participate in career training and job opportunities so they can become college- and career-ready
  • Meaningful Youth Engagement - All youth have opportunity to participate in quality after-school and out-of-school activities
  • Health Awareness and Access - Reduce the number of youth exposed to trauma
  • Restorative Justice and Diversion - Increase the number of youth allowed to remain safely in their communities while under court supervision
  • Safe Environment - Youth feel safe and are safer in their homes, on the street and in school
  • Education - Youth receive a high-quality education from pre-K through high school
The Summit report is available online.

Opportunity might be the solution to rising youth violence in Nashville, says Mayor Megan Barry.

"By 2017, I want 10,000 of our youth to have an engaged opportunity that includes a paid internship," Barry told a group at the Oasis Center on Thursday afternoon.

The internships are one of the action items outlined in a new summit report — the result of five community meetings that began last December. The report was prepared by co-chairs Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry and Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway.

 by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, March 31, 2016 - ....... The numbers are jarring. Over the past five years, 16,955 violent incidents in Nashville involved youth.

Last year, among the country's 50 largest cities, Nashville ranked second in the highest percentage increase in homicides — from 41 in 2014 to 78 in 2015.

Of those, 55 percent of the perpetrators were 25 years old or younger, and half those killed were younger than 25.

African-American males are disproportionately involved in the crimes, according to the report, both in terms of victims and those arrested. .......The report refers to youth violence as an “epidemic” with a range of root causes: joblessness and poverty; poor educational opportunities; a lack of adult role models; barriers to re-entry for those who have been incarcerated; and a cycle of trauma and violence. (link)

I commend the Mayor 

My Comment:  I commend the mayor for recognizing and tacking this crisis. I think the report missed it in identifying root causes however. I am convinced the root causes are out of wedlock births and welfare dependency and those two causes are closely related. Welfare programs made fathers unnecessary which led to the break down of that most basic building block of society- the family. Generational welfare dependency and no fathers in the home let to a distortion of values and a decreased sense of self worth which led to hopelessness and joblessness and crime and more out of wedlock births and more hopelessness and poverty which continued the downward spiral.

We may not be able to correct the root causes and even if we as a society decided to undo the damage of the welfare state, it would take a generation to see the results. So, while we can't fix the root causes anytime soon, that does not mean we should not try to address the immediate problem.  A good mentor, be it a scout leader or coach or boss or teacher can tern lives around. A good education can get a child headed toward college rather than prison.  We have seen this numerous times in which charter schools have produced results that have had every single child in a class of Black disadvantaged kids beat the odds and get accepted to college.

Some years ago, I was working closely with very low income people at the time welfare reform was implemented.  I saw people get their first job and saw the change it made in their lives. They had to be pushed out of the welfare nest but once they discovered the rewards of earning a living their sense of self worth and well being improved. They gained pride in earning a paycheck.  It is too bad we abandoned welfare reform and backtracked.  I have also seen low income people turn their lives around and change their habits and ways of thinking in order to achieve the dream of home ownership.

I oppose programs that subsidize poverty and keep people trapped in despair and make govern dependency a way of life, but we should not just abandon the poor to hopelessness. We should just not accept that it is normal for young Black men to kill each other. I am not sure all of the six points of the mayors program will work to reduce youth crime, and I have not carefully studied the program. Even if a program sounds good on paper, if it is not implemented well, it will fail.  What is proposed may not succeed and have the desired effect, but I think it is right to try. The status quo is not acceptable.

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