Several months ago members of the Dallas Community Prosecutors team met with us here at CitySquare to discuss a revolutionary new program for Dallas. The "Top Offenders Program" included several key components.
First, law enforcement identified the really "bad guys" in the target neighborhood. In the community we focused on there were 5 hardened, violent criminals that ran the drug trade. The police arrested them. All five are under federal indictment and on their way to long prison terms. Since their arrest, crime in the neighborhood has decreased by 63%!
Second, the community prosecutors organized a "call in." Functioning much like an intervention on an alcoholic or drug addict, the meeting involved parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, ministers, children and others. Invited to these "call in" sessions are the underlings of the really bad actors. These are young people who have assisted the hardened criminals in their enterprise.
The message conveyed clearly and by multiple persons in the community during the meeting, to the invite list is very simple: "You are done ruining our neighborhood. And, tonight you have a choice and a chance."
On one side of the room the police stand with a fist full of warrants for the arrest of the beneficiaries of the intervention--the underlings to the bad guys.
On the other side of the room stand case managers from CitySquare who are present to begin a relationship of renewal and second chances.
The choice is forced, but must be made. Go with the police or go with caring people who are devoted to seeing you rebound and experience a fresh start, including the clearing of all criminal records to date. The entire process is overseen and managed by a criminal court and the judges who sit at these benches of justice and order.
So far the numbers are still small, but it's working as these photos of recent "graduate" of the program, Uniqua Johnson reflect!