Leaders address juvenile crime intervention

Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS – Juvenile crime has been spiking lately, especially carjackings and car break-ins.

A 45 to 60 day program could turn-around kids’ lives.

In 2019, New Orleans and the non-profit Family Center of Hope began operating an evening reporting center. It’s an alternative juveniles can be sent to instead of being locked up.

Reverend Pat Watson, the executive director of the Evening Reporting Center said, “Most crimes are carjackings, simple robbery, purse snatching…what you’re hearing in the news now are the kids we’re working with.”

The kids have been court ordered to attend. More than 50 are enlisted in the intervention program instead of being detained.

“We cannot arrest our way out of the crime that is being committed and we can’t arrest our young people for everything,” said Commissioner Tenisha Stevens of the Office of Criminal Justice Coordination.

The kids are ordered at the judge’s discretion.

The judge looks at the kid’s background, how many times have they been arrested and the child’s home life.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, “This was created to take innovative approaches to meet our young people where they are to deter them from a path of violent crime and to put them on a path to reach their fullest potential in our city and of course in their lives.”

The program takes a holistic approach and has seen tremendous success.

“We have close to 20 kids over the last year and a half who have not committed another crime, 9 kids over 14 months who have not committed another crime and 12 more totals 51,” said Rev. Watson.

Within the first 48 to 72 hours, the center meets with the child’s family and evaluates their situation. They work with parents and kids to provide a safe space and the tools they need to move forward.

“They are not the crimes that they commit and if we can understand that and look beyond that and understand the issues they’re experiencing in their lives…we might be able to respect them as people,” Rev. Watson said.

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