As Lenny Curry prepares to transition into the role of Jacksonville mayor, he has subcommittees at work collecting data.
Monday morning’s Prevention, Intervention and At-Risk Youth meeting focused on programs under the banner of the Jacksonville Journey, started under former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton.
The Jacksonville Journey is an initiative to stop crime. It serves as an umbrella for programs that range from helping ex-offenders get jobs, to getting more cops on the streets. Many Jacksonville Journey programs focus on keeping kids on the right track.
University of North Florida professor Michael Hallett served on the Jacksonville Journey Oversight Committee for four years. He told the committee that Journey programs work best when they’re closely monitored.
“You can take the best-designed program and mess it up if you implement it poorly,” Hallett said. “It seems to me that one of the major strengths of the Jacksonville Journey is that every program was evaluated by the oversight committee.”
He says the Journey programs were evaluated each month and often money was redistributed to better-performing programs.
But former councilman and committee co-chair Johnny Gaffney says that can be a challenge, because smaller community organizations may not have the technology to collect that required data.
“They don’t have the dollars and resources,” Gaffney said. “When there’s accountability, you've got to be able to produce your documentation. So I think that’s something we need to try to explore ways to help them with their documentation.”
State Attorney Angela Corey also spoke to the committee. She says fewer juveniles are committing crimes. But the average age of juvenile offenders is getting lower, and the number of them that are female is getting larger.
Gaffney says the biggest challenge is convincing City Council to fund the programs. He says it starts with convincing the community.
“[The community] wants to make sure that these dollars are going to what’s going to help their causes or help the community,” Gaffney said. “So we have to get their buy-in or they [will] be pretty frustrated with their council people and call in. The city council person has to advocate for their constituents.”
Gaffney says after hearing from experts and community leaders, the committee will recommend the most effective Journey programs to Curry.