Summit aims at keeping youth out of prison - - The News for South Mississippi

Summit aims at keeping youth out of prison

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi prisons are swollen with inmates, many who get out of jail and soon return.

The prison cycle is a major concern, so US Marshals and several statewide officials discussed potential solutions to relieving our criminal justice system.


Keeping youth on track and out of prison was the focus of Saturday's "Path to Restoration Summit."

"It's not an issue that is defined by race it is not an issue defined by geography," said Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R) MS, District 1.

The issue at hand is the hundreds of young people taking the criminal path...instead of the road towards success.

"The law enforcement people see it when it gets to the end we have to catch it before," added Rep. Bennie Thompson (D) MS, District 2.

Congressman Thompson and Congressman Nunnelee were two of several state officials and police officers who brainstormed Saturday on how to keep our youth and young adults on track and out of jail.

Thompson shared information on voluntary federal programs available that communities can take advantage of to help youth.

 There's a new one that President Obama allocated $150 million towards. 

"The Presidential initiative My Brother's Keeper this is a program primarily for African American males to keep them out of the criminal justice system," Thompson said.

Everyone agrees that education plays a significant role.

"I had one judge who told me he said its been so long since I've sent someone to incarceration that was a high school graduate, I can't even think of one," added Attorney Wilbur Colom, Program Coordinator.

Despite the negative, Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong says his department has achieved success keeping young people engaged in positive activities. 

One program helping is a summer street ball camp. 

"What we have noticed is that since this program started several years ago that our crime involving youth has gone down over 50%, " Armstrong said.

Congressman Thompson said the website provides a list of several youth programs communities can apply for.

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