By Hollis Wormsby Jr.
Last week we looked at tightening the criteria for setting bail to keep violent criminals off the street as a short-term solution to crime.
This week I would like to look at potential long-term solutions. One of the factors that leads to crime and a low quality of life in general is having some in the community with inadequate work skills.
The only way to significantly change the long-term prospect for those individuals is to find training and oversight programs; but then you realize that the challenge is not finding funding for the training programs, but motivating the people who would benefit from them.
One of the best examples I have seen of this is the Promise Built Community concept where the community takes responsibility for providing opportunity for all residents and creates a framework for success that residents either have to buy into or seek housing elsewhere.
The most successful example I have seen is in Atlanta where a community used to be called “Little Vietnam” because of its crime and violence. That public housing community was demolished and gave way to new housing that included a Charter School and YMCA that residents with good standing had access to.
All students in this Promise Built community report to the Y at 7 a.m. for breakfast and mentoring, then attend school until the 3 p.m. dismissal upon which time they return to the Y for activities that include homework help, participation in an onsite Robotics and chess clubs and organized sports activities. In order to live in this community participation in this program is mandatory.
Prior to the Promise Built program these students were performing poorly, but with the support of programs at the Charter School and the Y these students became chess champions, won the Robotics contest in Atlanta and now have grade point averages near the highest for any group in Atlanta.
Students have learned they will have the opportunity to pursue opportunities beyond high school and develop skills that will allow for them to be productive members of society. We need to do more than hope for better for our children, we need to fight for the resources for all children in our community to have the chance for success. At least that’s the way I see it.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)