This year the US city of Chicago has been the scene of nearly 2,800 shootings, a statistic that stands as a sobering reminder of a cycle of violence that shows no signs of stopping. But look beyond the numbers to the faces and families of the victims: those like Steven Ward.
The 23-year-old was shot in December 2017 while stopped at a red light. Police and the Chicago media reduced Ward’s life to a sentence: just a “self-reported documented gang member”. But to the men of Green ReEntry, a program helping the formally incarcerated reacclimate to their communities, Ward was a young man full of promise. They say he was determined to escape the pernicious cycle of violence and that he flourished in the program.
Organisers of Green ReEntry subscribe to the belief that “nothing stops a bullet like a job” and say to stop the cycle of violence you must eradicate the forces that diminish the humanity of young people like Ward.
According to a report by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC), of the 71,551 convictions processed in Illinois in 2016, only 11 percent admitted had prior criminal records. The Inner-City Muslim Action Network started the Green ReEntry program to address the root causes of recidivism.
So what happens when violence is treated like a community health crisis instead of a crime issue? We’ll ask the experts on this episode of The Stream.
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