Convicted criminals are offering their insight into solving Indianapolis’ public safety crisis — all in the form of letters.
Reverend Charles Harrison of the 10 Point Coalition received several letters in the mail from inmates in the past few weeks. He says this special insight may be part of the solution in ending the city’s violence.
“For them, they see hope,” said Harrison. “[They know] there are people out there who care about what’s going on. They started offering suggestions on what we could do. They also want to be part of the solution.”
Faith leaders say, too often, hundreds of convicts are released from prison only to return to a life of crime and drugs. Many struggle to find a decent job due to their criminal backgrounds.
Harrison shared one letter with Fox 59 from an inmate who offered ways to break the cycle. The 28-year-old lost his football scholarship after being caught selling drugs four years ago.
“Many good men like myself made mistakes in life and are serving time for these mistakes,” he wrote. “We want nothing more than a chance to live a better life, right some of the wrongs we’ve done and be positive and productive members of society. [We want to be] part of the solution and not the problem.”
These ex-offenders with a change of heart can be valuable to 10 Point Coalition’s cause. With their criminal past and experience on the streets, Harrison said these inmates can serve as ambassadors to troubled youth in prison before they return to society.
“[It’s] the mentality and thinking of what would lead you to kill another human being without any regard for human life. It is those individuals who can speak to younger people who think like that today,” said Harrison.
It is an idea that has proven successful on the streets. These so-called “OG’s,” or original gangsters, play a vital role in connecting with teens.
“I know what their life is about. I know what their life can be about,” said Darryl Jones, a 10 Point member and ex-offender. “My favorite saying is, ‘I was your age, but you’re not my age yet.'”
“We want to be able to build a movement,” said Harrison. “We want to build an army.”