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Stopping Teen Violence

Profiles of People and Groups in the Video

  National Organizations on Teen Violence

  Suggested Reading

  Teen Crime Facts




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PROFILES OF PEOPLE AND GROUPS IN THE VIDEO

Teen Violence: STOPPING A GANG WAR
Washington, DC

The Alliance of Concerned Men: Working in some of Washington, DC's toughest neighborhoods, the Alliance of Concerned Men (ACM) offers young men and women the chance to stop the cycle of violence in their lives. At the organization's core, are 51-year-old Tyrone Parker, the group's executive director, who served prison time in his youth for bank robbery; and 52-year-old Rico Rush, ACM's program manager who, as heroin addict in the 1970's, went to jail for weapon and drug charges. Along with four friends, Parker and Rush have turned their own troubled lives around and then put their street smarts to use, counseling children, teenagers, and adults throughout the inner-city. Members of the Alliance of Concerned Men, particularly Parker and Rush, took the leading role in successfully mediating a truce in the gang war of Washington's Benning Terrace housing project, between the Circle and Avenue Crews.

Tyrone Parker: Founder and Executive Director of the Alliance of Concerned Men. Arrested just out of Washington's East High School and given a long jail sentence for bank robbery, Parker was released on parole, developed a successful career as a small businessman and a youth counselor for the Washington, D.C., city government. He is a regular churchgoer at Union Baptist Church in the Anacostia District. In 1991, after losing his own son to a teen murder, Parker founded the Alliance of Concerned Men and recruited some of his former high school classmates who, like Parker, had turned around their own troubled lives.

Thomas Derrick Ross, formerly a leader of the Circle Crew, has moved successfully into work with the D.C. Housing Authority since the gang truce at Benning Terrace. Now 24, Ross was elected President of The Concerned Brothers and Sisters of Benning Terrace, a youth arm of the Alliance of Concerned Men. Since the gang truce, Ross has begun to take college courses, starting with a property management program at Catholic University in Washington. He has successfully completed the D.C. Housing Authority's Management Internship Program and earned his certification as property manager. Even as he shares his conflict-resolution experience with other young people, Ross considers himself a work in progress.

Wayne Lee is formerly leader of the Avenue Crew. As a teenager, Wayne Lee hoped he would live long enough to see his 21st birthday. Surviving multiple shootings and a coma, he celebrated his 21st birthday earlier this year. Since the truce, Lee has moved from the front lines of the Avenue Crew to the front office of the D.C. Housing Authority, where he now works as an Administrative Assistant.

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LeJon WatsonLeJon Watson was a Circle Crew member. As a teenager, LeJon Watson rejected his parents' rules and took up a rebellious life on the streets. After serving time for drug and assault charges, he spent three years on the run from law enforcement. Just before the gang truce at Benning Terrace, Watson faced the prospect of a five-year prison sentence. Now 26, Watson credits both the Alliance of Concerned Men and Robert Woodson of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise for giving him a second chance. At work, Watson excelled and won a coveted post as a construction crew supervisor for the D.C. Housing Authority.

Teen Violence: HEAR ME BUT DON'T COPY ME
Oregon

Los Hermanos Youth Crime Prevention Program was founded by a group of inmates in the Oregon State Penitentiary with the goal of keeping young people from joining them behind bars. The core of the program is a series of monthly face-to-face meetings at the penitentiary. In small groups with troubled teenagers, some convicted of crimes and under court orders to attend and others at risk of sliding toward a life of crime, the Los Hermanos inmates use their own lives as examples to avoid. They have developed a nine-session course that lays out good and bad decision making, life-style values and choices, taking responsibility for decisions, and determining self-identity. Originally, the program was just for Latino prisoners, but it has been broadened to include white and black prisoners and youths as well. So successful has the course been that it has been adopted by school districts in five neighboring counties.

Antonio PalaciosAntonio Palacios, a co-founder of Los Hermanos, has served 15 years of a 60-year prison sentence for a conspiracy to kill a police officer. A former drug addict and kingpin dealer, Palacios decided several years ago to stop drug dealing in prison and to reform his ways. As he saw young people in his own family heading toward a life of crime, Palacios decided to set up a program to reach beyond the prison walls and counsel young people to avoid a life of crime and prison. "We wanted to try to keep the kids that we knew out there which was our own children, nephews and nieces from ending up in prison like we did, " says Palacios.

Linda Miller, a middle school teacher in Mollalla, Oregon, uses the Los Hermanos program with all the 12 to 14-year-old students she teaches and takes as many as possible to the Oregon State Penitentiary to meet the inmates. Miller says she sees great value in the prison visits and face-to-face meetings as a deterrent against teen crime. "My kids always think they're not going to get caught - it's not that bad, it's not that big a deal," she says. But the prisoners quickly disabuse the teenagers by telling them that none of the 2,000 prison inmates ever expected to be caught. Coming from inmates, she says, that message has an impact on teenagers.

David Endicott, an 18-year-old from Mollalla, went through the Los Hermanos program and says it changed his life. "I bet I'd be in juvenile hall right now," he says. But after going through the Los Hermanos program, Endicott finished high school and now has a steady job at a tire plant. For him, the prison visits and talking with prisoners incarcerated for a lifetime were a shock and an eye-opener. "Seeing what it was like in prison, I realized I didn't want to be there," he says, but he wanted to stay free, on the outside, to make his own way through life.

District Judge Terry Leggert of Salem, Oregon has sent scores of juvenile offenders to the Los Hermanos program and seen clear-cut results. "I've seen youth that have gone to the program who stopped committing criminal activity," she says. What the judge likes about the Los Hermanos program is the interaction between teenagers and inmates. "Youth need positive role models, they need positive mentors," she says. "Now that sounds sort of odd when you're talking about inmates. But when you go out and listen to these inmates, they are role models in the sense of 'We know what we did was really bad and wrong and if we ever had another chance to do something different we would have.' " So she sees the inmates as positive role models on the need to avoid a life that will land you in a penitentiary.

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