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Jacksonville Finance Committee Looks At Where Anti-Crime Money Is Spent

City of Jacksonville

The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee moved forward with funding Thursday for a non-violence initiative called the Jax Journey.

If the full Council approves it, Journey funding will stay nearly the same as last year, at about $5 million dollars.

The Journey is an umbrella for programs meant to reduce crime. It began in 2009 under former Mayor John Peyton.

If the budget passes, more funding would go toward increasing literacy in young children with more than half a million for the Early Learning Coalition. Less would go toward out-of-school suspension centers because fewer students are being assigned to them.

Each Journey program must submit a monthly report. Journey Project director Debbie Verges said a data analysis company looks at metrics tailored to each program. She said take ex-offender employment programs, for example.

“When the person finds a job, then the individual agency is paid,” she said. “So they are paid for their performance and the success of helping find that individual a job. The metrics that we’re also looking at is what is the recidivism rate of those individuals that our agencies have helped.”

She said the Jax Journey Oversight Committee went back through the Journey’s history and many programs weren’t gathering the right data to measure how well they were working.

On Thursday, some committee members questioned how the Journey team picks areas of town to benefit from the programs, which serve 10 ZIP codes, mostly on the north and west sides.

JSO violent-crime data drives the oversight committee’s decisions, but Councilman Scott Wilson said they should also consider other factors. For example, he said when high-crime neighborhoods are near ones without much crime, those neighborhoods may not be identified as Journey areas. He recommends targeting smaller areas with high crime rather than entire zip codes.

“Windy Hill is a neighborhood that’s directly adjacent to Town Center and Tinseltown, so a lot of times the data is not accurate for that neighborhood because you combine those other neighborhoods where people have higher incomes,” he said.

Councilman Bill Gulliford added if the Journey’s goal is to prevent crime, it’s committee should be looking at “pre-crime” data, such as schools with high drug use and bullying, instead of only crime data.

The budget also doesn’t fund many smaller programs, but Verges said the sheriff’s office will help. She said around November money from fines and forfeitures will help fund small, faith-based nonprofits.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.