NEW ORLEANS — We're hearing a lot about juvenile crime in New Orleans recently, specifically the vicious nature of some of the crimes. Prosecutors are frustrated about what they call “a revolving door” that puts young suspects back on the street.
"They had a history of being involved in violent criminal activity and when they get out, they go right back to violent criminal activity,” Leon Cannizzaro, the District Attorney for Orleans Parish, said. “Unfortunately, they victimized people.”
It's got the attention of the New Orleans Police Superintendent, but the NOPD has limited resources. It’s one of the reasons why Chief Shaun Ferguson is calling on parents to be more involved with their children.
“I've asked parents to be more accountable and they've been doing just that, in my opinion. They have been more accountable for their children," Ferguson said.
Nobody is going to argue against parent involvement, but families in New Orleans are facing significant challenges. More than 39% of kids live in poverty and more than 61% of kids live in a single-parent household. Chabre Johnson and Darrin McCall say it takes more than just police and parents to prevent juvenile crime.
"It's going to take community members, churches, young people and their families, law enforcement and nonprofits like us," McCall said.
They're with Youth Empowerment Project. Their mission is to give mentoring, education and job opportunities for under-served kids. They say as the city looks to add more police, it should also look to add more early-stage social programs.
“The problem we're having is most of the programming we have in the city now is reactive instead of proactive. A lot of the support comes after they get into trouble," Johnson said.
While heinous juvenile crime is producing a lot of outrage, Johnson and McCall say the community should provide more outreach. For more information about Youth Empowerment Project, click here.