Tommy: How do we tackle juvenile crime?

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
April 10, 2019 - 12:10 pm

NOPD says there’s been a rash of “bold and brazen” juvenile crime in the last couple weeks.  How do we stop it?  What’s driving it?  Is the solution more help for them, harsher sentences, or some combination of the two?

To try and get a sense of what’s going on, I spoke with Darrin McCall, the Director of Programs for the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), about the work they do in the New Orleans area with underserved youth.  McCall said YEP offers services in four main areas.

  • Mentoring
  • Education
  • Work readiness
  • Enrichment

“Really, the name of the game for us is to develop skills, strengthen ties to community for young folks and to make sure they have access to skills, opportunities, and resources to take their next step or really reach their full potential.”

I also spoke with a caller, Joe, who is a former police officer.  Joe saw a lot of this firsthand, and one of the things he stressed was the importance of strong family and community ties, particularly when it comes to role models.

“This is such a multifaceted problem; it’s got so many angles to it.  But I think one thing that you have to think about is that one of the common denominators for all these children is that typically there’s a weak family structure surrounding them.  So there’s very little support; there’s very little encouragement; and there’s very little role-modeling for these individuals.  So they get their role-models from the street.”

You can listen to the whole call here.

Another thing that really struck me was that Joe said a relationship of sorts sometimes pops up between the kids as they grow up and the police officers.

“There seems to develop, at times, between certain police officers that’ll arrest the same person, repeatedly, over a period of five or six years.  There’s this odd, symbiotic relationship that develops between the two. ‘Hey, Marvin, you’re in here again?’ ‘Yeah, man, I messed up again.’ It’s an odd dynamic.”

What do you think?  How can we tackle this issue?

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