Local Alabama counties are making a push to ease youth violence

CARROLLTON, Al. (WCBI)- Youth violence surged around the country and in the area. A west Alabama district attorney saw the trend and went to work to find a solution. People typically say the youth is the future, but if violent crimes among them continue to surge things won’t be so bright. Some leaders in Pickens County are working to get kids back on the right track. The helping families initiative was set in place to help families with kids that may be high risk; meaning kids with poor attendance, unstable living communities, or are in poverty. “We’ve been reactive to everything and this was a vehicle for us to be proactive in that we identify the at-risk youth and we try to preempt criminality,” said district 24 attorney Andy Hamlin. The program is funded through the Volunteers of America Southeast (VOAS) and will be held in the Pickens County College and Career Center. “All of these kids are at this location so we’ll have a central location and then it allows us to have access to the entire county public and private,” said the executive director of the program Christopher Washington. Washington’s experience as an officer and life experience as a child made him a perfect fit for the job. “It allows me now to know personally what they go through, what they experience, what their environment consists of,” said Washington. Hamlin and Washington have reached out to school superintendents to target specific kids before the school year starts; however, the program won’t be able to get in full swing until families do their part to help. “We never know what a household needs until we’re able to get under the roof so once we can get inside of the home and we can see the bigger scope of what’s going on we can get what’s needed to help that household,” said Washington. The initiative is in place for Fayette, Lamar, and Pickens Counties. Kids are only admitted to the program as long as they do not have any criminal offenses, and families are encouraged to reach out to the District Attorney’s office to get their child signed up.

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