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.

In seven hours, two were dead. What will Lexington do to prevent more bloodshed?

May 23, 2017. Lexington Herald Leader.

Two fatal shootings in Lexington in seven hours on Monday have caused some residents to fear a spike in violent crime, but police say the killings don’t necessarily indicate a brutal summer ahead.

The shootings Monday increased the murder toll to seven in 2017, the same total the city had by the same date in 2016. However, gun violence escalated, and by the end of 2016, Lexington saw 24 murders, the highest total in 15 years.

Interfaith group wants Lexington to contract with anti-violence organization

April 25, 2017. Lexington Herald Leader.

A Lexington interfaith coalition is asking city leaders to contract with a national organization to try to reduce violent crime in the city.

At its annual Nehemiah Action Assembly Tuesday night, BUILD was prepared to ask that a city representative attend a conference of and advocate for a contract with the National Network for Safe Communities.