Former gang members give teen criminals a second chance

 

From charges of assault to attempted murder, possession of guns and drugs - at a time when youth violence in Metro is at an all-time high - teens are getting a second chance.

The first day of class at Gentlemen and Not Gangsters or G.A.N.G there is a casket in the front of the room.

It’s not used as a scare tactic, rather a reality check.

Program leaders say these kids could end up dead if they don't straighten out.

“We have those who have stolen, murdered, you name it they've done it,” said teen mentor Stacy Campbell.

For more than three years G.A.N.G has been working to curb youth violence.

Dozens have graduated from the program and are now successful in their communities.

Now, for the first time, the program is merging with a class for teen girls charged with serious crimes.

“Most of the time the girls are the leaders, the top rank leaders in the gangs and they push the boys to do what they need to do,” said Campbell.

Campbell started the program Growing in Faith Together or G.I.F.T.

She says while she sees a lot of promise, she's also seen setbacks.

Earlier this year, one of her mentees, Myeisha Brown was charged with murdering this man, Ruxin Wang, a Chinese tourist.

His son Ruxin was devastated to learn the accused killer is so young.

“It’s extremely sad that such a young person would throw their life away,” said Wang.

“You get the what-ifs, like are we teaching the correct curriculum? Are we actually getting through to them?" said Campbell.

She says the ones who do make it through and come back to thank her make it all worthwhile.

The program is open to all troubled teens, not just the ones in the juvenile court system.

To donate to the program, click here.

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