Offenders told they still have a chance to change as part of plan to end killings

November 11, 2017. The Columbus Dispatch.

“You’ve got to pay attention to this. You’ve got to be awake for this,” Fred Benton, a defense attorney, told them. “The law is looking for you.”

A group of 16 people saw the Franklin County Common Pleas courtroom from a unique vantage point Thursday.

Each is on probation for violent or gun-related crimes. About half have affiliations to criminal street gangs. Many knew someone who had been shot and, in some cases, killed.

The two women and 14 men of varying age and race and from various parts of the city sat in the jury box with a different fate to weigh — their own. Each still has a chance.

Editorial: BREAD plan offers hope

September 9, 2017. The Columbus Dispatch.

It’s hard to grasp the carnage in Columbus this year. As of midweek, the city had suffered 91 homicides; last year at this time, there were 65. Just three years ago, there were 91 homicides for the entire year.

Police are baffled. They say they don’t know why. Columbus City Councilman Mitchell J. Brown, a former Columbus safety director, is also frustrated, noting that a disproportionate number of the victims are black males; they accounted for at least 58 of this year’s homicides, he said. And homicide isn’t claiming just those who make themselves vulnerable to violence by participating in gangs or the drug trade; innocents have become collateral damage.

Clearly, we’ve got to find a better way. The faith-based, social-justice group BREAD thinks it has one.

Columbus hopes new program will reduce recidivism among violent offenders

August 25, 2017. The Columbus Dispatch.

The city will soon be rolling out a new anti-crime initiative offering violent offenders a chance to change.

The catch?

Shootings and violence must stop, said Columbus’ Public Safety Deputy Director George Speaks.

The program, called the Safe Neighborhood Initiative, is the result of a three-year grassroots effort led by BREAD — Building Responsibility, Equality And Dignity — to lobby the city and other government agencies that violence could be reduced by intervening with violent offenders. BREAD is a faith-based social justice organization made up of 40 congregations and 20,000 members.

Thousands demand end to ‘school-to-prison’ pipeline

May 1, 2017. WCMH-TV Columbus.

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — 26,000. That’s the number of suspensions given out just last year alone in the Columbus Public School District, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Monday night thousands met in Columbus to demand an end to what they call the school-to-prison pipeline.

Of the 26,000 suspensions, we don’t know how many are from the same student. Still, it’s a shocking number. The B.R.E.A.D. Organization said it’s too many and that students who get suspended are more likely to fail, drop out and end up in prison.

BREAD plans annual community activism event

April 28, 2017. The Columbus Dispatch.

More than 2,000 people will flow into the Celeste Center at the Ohio State Fairgrounds on Monday evening for BREAD’s annual Nehemiah Action event. Afterward, Cathy Levine hopes they leave feeling the power they have to accomplish “wonderful things” in the community.

Levine, a committee chairwoman with the interfaith group BREAD — Building Responsibility, Equality And Dignity — and other group officials are hosting the event at 7 p.m. Monday.