More youth crime intervention programs needed in Durham County, officials say

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Shooting incidents have been on the rise in Durham and a growing number of teens have been involved in gun violence over the last year.

According to data from Durham police, last year 39 teens ages 14 to 17 were shot in Durham and three of those teens died.

Durham officials say more teens were involved in more serious crimes this past year involving weapons, robberies and thefts.

After North Carolina passed the “raise the age law” allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to be charged as juveniles rather than adults, Durham County is now working with more court-involved teens.

Nisha Williams, chair of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, said the county currently has seven intervention programs for youth that the council helps fund and teens are part of these programs either through a court order or they were referred.

Williams said since the “raise the age law” took effect there is a need for more intervention programs geared toward 16 and 17-year -olds.

“One thing that we’ve been trying to push with our new funding are programs that offer vocational skill building,” said Williams.

She added that some of the delinquent 16 and 17-year-olds may be school dropouts.

“If they are not attending school, we want to make sure that they have some type of skill set that they can be able to utilize in the real world,” Williams said.

In addition, Williams said they are also looking for programs that provide emergency housing for teens, as there is an issue with teen homelessness as well.

One of the seven intervention programs in Durham County that the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council currently helps fund is the P.R.O.U.D. program, which stands for Personal Responsibility to Overcome with Understanding & Determination.

“Our goal is to stop young people from entering in and going further into the criminal justice system,” said Quillie Coath Jr., executive director of the group. “We also work to decrease school dropouts.”

Coath said their program provides one-on-one guidance to teens who are either referred or ordered by court to get help.

“A lot of these young people are dealing with anything from stress to substance issues, and some of them are dealing with violence,” Coath said.

Coath said they have started to see more 16 and 17-year-olds come in since the “raise the age law” took effect.

“Now we can work with them on some work readiness, communication issues, conflict issues and definitely some of this community violence that’s going on,” Coath said.

Williams said they are now soliciting proposals for intervention/prevention programs to serve delinquent and at-risk youth. She said local agencies and non-profits are encouraged to apply.

“The goal of some of these programs that we fund is to be able to rehabilitate and address the issues that are happening in each individual youth’s life,” Williams said.

The deadline to apply is March 31, 2021 at 5 p.m.

If you would like to submit a proposal for an intervention program, contact Kelly Waggy at 919-560-0534 or send an email to kwaggy@dconc.gov.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Click here for full list of trending stories