Violent Offenders Given Choice: Accept Help or Face the Law

Twenty-two repeat violent offenders have agreed to appear before a gathering of community leaders, law enforcement officials, friends and family members for an opportunity to either leave behind a life of crime or suffer severe consequences.

The Violent Crime Task Force, a partnership between the community and law enforcement, will hold its next “call-in” at 5:30 pm Thursday, November 13 at the Public Safety Training Facility, 1510 N. Church St.

The purpose of the call-in is to let past offenders know the community will not tolerate future violence and help is available if they choose to change their lives.

The call-in works like this:
• The NC Department of Public Safety’s Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice sends letters of invitation to people who are at least 18 years of age, have been convicted of at least one violent felony offense, and have been arrested at least 10 times.
• Community representatives in attendance stress to offenders that violence and crime will no longer be tolerated and that they are united to make their neighborhoods safer.
• Law enforcement representatives inform participants that continued criminal behavior will be prosecuted swiftly and to the fullest extent of the law.
• Family members hear the messages from law enforcement and community members.
• Community representatives and other officials provide information on available resources, such as educational opportunities, jobs, etc., and hear the needs of the participants so they can better provide those resources.

The notification/call-in is part of a six-step plan to reduce violent crime in Greensboro.
1. Identify repeat, violent and group offenders.
2. Vigorously prosecute those who are involved in violent or serious criminal behavior in state and federal Court.
3. Notify those identified that it is time to stop the violence.
4. Assist those who want to change their lifestyle.
5. Aggressively respond to further acts of violence (neighborhood responses).
6. Evaluate and repeat the process, making changes as necessary.

Present at the call-in will be Lacy Colon, a re-entry specialist with the Welfare Reform Liaison Project, a nonprofit organization that offers employment training to offenders and other students. A former inmate himself, Colon inspires call-in participants to accept that changing their lifestyle is both possible and rewarding.

The first Violent Crimes Task Force call-in was held in February 2000. This week’s meeting will be the 54 call-in. The multi-agency task force has sent its messages of no tolerance and support to 897 violent offenders since its inception. Approximately 86 percent of those who appeared before the group did not commit another prohibited violent offense.