INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The number of juveniles being killed by gun violence is alarming, but the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is working to curb the city’s deadly statistics.
A new effort called Project LIFE is giving juveniles a second chance. The juveniles are ordered by probation to participate in the program, which stands for Lasting Intense Firearms Education.
“It just breaks my heart every time I hear a juvenile being in trouble,” said Reverend Malachi Walker.
Last weekend, two juveniles were among the seven shot and killed in Marion County.
Rev. Walker works one-on-one with hundreds of at-risk kids through his program, Young Men Inc. He believes a program like Project LIFE will save a lot of lives and keep a lot of young people out of the system.
“We don’t want to see them fall below the crack,” said Walker, “We don’t want to see them make decisions one day they will regret.”
That’s where Project LIFE comes into action. It’s a three-day program recently known as Educating Kids About Gun Violence (EKG). Prosecutor Terry Curry says it was a scared straight approach, but now it’s more complex.
“To be honest, it was discouraging as we did follow-up on kids who came through EKG,” said Curry.
Project LIFE still uses those techniques, showing what it looks like during an autopsy or to have a serious gunshot wound.
“The kids are shown real life,” said Curry. “What it looks like to have, wear a colostomy bag the rest of your life.”
Project LIFE now focuses more on family counseling and conflict resolution. Curry says it’s a step in the right direction.
“We need to realize when you address mental health issues, we need to address family issues, and just trying to scare them – you’re going to end up in prison – is not sufficient,” said Curry.
The program focuses on teaching youth to solve problems, the right way and showing what medical and legal problems they could face if they pick up a gun.
“Not only are you subjecting yourself to the prosecution but on the other hand you significantly increase the likelihood that you’re going to be a victim,” said Curry.
Once a juvenile completes Project LIFE, the courts follow up after three months for at-home counseling.