Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ballard, Administration Launch "Your Life Matters" Initiative Seven Years into Administration

Mayor Ballard launched a major initiative targeted specifically towards troubled and at-risk young people trying to turn them away from crime and into a variety of other existing programs designed to better lives in our city.

It's an initiative called, "Your Life Matter," and it will take direct aim at our city's crime problem, specifically crime by black males on other black males.

"We lose more young men of color to murder than we do to car crashes or disease," Ballard said in his announcement today. “This current pattern of violence is robbing us of an entire generation of young men of color, and it must stop.”

He's exactly right.  Something had to be done.  When I wrote my "Easter 2015" blog post last month, I outlined a broad plan to take my fight to our schools and fight crime with education.  Mine was hypothetical.  Ballard's is much more involved.

Ballard's initiative brought immediate praise from those voices in the community long calling for action, but will it work?  That remains to be seen.  There is no silver bullet that is going to stop young men from killing other young men or other individuals deciding to make poor decisions.  The Indianapolis Star describes a bit about what is in the plan:  
>> Ballard pledged a $75,000 investment in the Connect2Help 211 telephone service. The nonprofit connects people, especially parents who need help with troubled children, to human services providers. The extra funding will allow 211, which has about 60 phone operators covering 24 counties in Central Indiana, to hire two additional employees. 
>> New public service announcement spots highlighting the initiative and its anti-violence message are airing every hour on Radio One networks. Radio One owns urban gospel, urban adult contemporary urban rhythmic and top 40 stations that broadcast in Marion County. 
>> Nearly 60 mentorship organizations endorsed by and partnered with the initiative, Ballard said, are prepared to help lead teenagers and young men and women away from violence. Youth employment programs, such as Youthbuild Indy, Youthworks Indy and Youth Employment Services, also have partnered with the initiative. 
>> For young people who already have criminal pasts, Ballard highlighted the city’s re-entry assistance programs, including the Mayor’s Office of Re-Entry. The office gives recently released ex-offenders a directory of groups that assist with jobs, housing and mentorship programs. 
To keep track of how the initiative is doing, Ballard said group leaders have organized a task force, comprising community and faith-based leaders, who will monitor the city’s involvement.
The biggest question that I have is why did it take until his seventh year in office to come up with a plan to get control of the spiraling crime rate in this city.  This certainly cannot be his only initiative, either.  Ballard needs to be forceful in dealing with crime across the city...in all quarters.

Nevertheless, it is good to see the Mayor concentrating his efforts in a positive manner rather than trying to recruit Prince William and Princess Catherine to the opening cricket match at our city's new cricket stadium.  Nothing against Will and Kate, but public safety is allegedly job one for Mayor Ballard.  Sometimes you wonder where it ranks on his list of jobs.

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