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Local Activists Speak Out On Crime And Poverty In Jacksonville

Tex Texin / Flickr

Prior to the explosive events in Ferguson, MO, alarm about the state of crime here in Jacksonville was making headlines.

While overall crime rates are down in Jacksonville, concerns about juvenile arrests in the city (particularly of African-American children), widespread poverty, and the slashing of funding toward crime prevention programs have advocates for a change in direction speaking out.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Jacksonville has developed what they’re calling a holistic approach to crime and long-term poverty in the city. Opio Sokoni, President of the SCLC, and Mick Hallett, Conference member and professor of criminology at the University of North Florida, joined Melissa Ross to discuss the issue.

Sokoni and Hallet have created an agenda of priorities and recommendations for the city, which include implementing a community-based urban economic development task force, addressing concerns about juvenile arrests, and expanding funding for the Jacksonville Journey crime prevention and intervention program.

Hallett pointed to the Jacksonville Journey as a major player in helping those living under social conditions that put them at a disadvantage, especially children.

“As far as I’m concerned the smartest accomplishment by Jacksonville Journey was the funding of TEAM UP after school programs for children, and those are now in danger,” said Hallett. “When children grow up in a situation of structural disadvantage, they end up receiving no nurturing, no care and no direction.”

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.