NEW ORLEANS -- Two brothers who turned their lives around are sending a powerful message to those making the same mistake.
Friday, Crimestoppers announced it's increasing rewards to $5,000 in an effort to solve more crime in the city, but will it be enough to make witnesses come forward? Those who grew up in high-crime areas say no.
Brothers Ben and Tyrone Smith know what it's like to be part of the crime problem in New Orleans.
"I paid for it," Ben said. "Took 13 years out of my life."
Ben was handed a 25-year sentence for selling crack cocaine but was released early. Tyrone was wrongly convicted and served 4 years before his life sentence was thrown out. They're now trying to steer other young men away from a life of crime.
"If you love your mom, your kids, your girlfriend, your wife, don't do it," Tyrone said. "Sooner or later it will come knocking on your door. Everybody will get affected because of your carelessness."
The effect on the community is clear. Mothers and children are among the murdered this year, but no suspects have been named in several cases.
Today, leaders of the FBI, State Police and the NOPD joined leaders of the faith community in a massive plea for help from the public. They upped the reward money in non-fatal shootings to $3,500 and homicides to $5,000.
Authorities said information is the key to catching criminals, but a long-standing code of "no snitching" remains on the streets. The Smith brothers say many stay silent out of fear.
"It's not enough for me to put my life, my kids, family on display because at the end of the day I have to still live in that same community," Tyrone said. "Knowing I have to go back and live among them and be labeled as a rat. No telling when it's my turn."
Meanwhile, cases go unsolved and the cycle of violence continues.
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