It's a No. 1 ranking no one wants to have and it has a Nashville address. The Nashville zip code 37208 has the highest percentage of incarceration in the nation, according to a new study.
A new study from the Brookings Institution lists the 40 U.S. zip codes with the highest incarceration rates.
North Nashville was first on the list. East Nashville (37206) came in at No. 38.
Local community leaders trying to curb those numbers say while it's upsetting, it's not surprising.
“We have a slogan: 'If you change your mind, you change your crime,'” Bishop Marcus Campbell said.
For more than a decade, Campbell has been working with at-risk youth to help them find a better tomorrow.
“A lot of times those kids are raising themselves," Campbell said. "You find them in the alleys or on the corners watching other guys that might be in gangs or sell drugs."
His church has become a beacon of hope for families dealt a poor hand.
“A lot of young men that come through our gang program say they just want to live to see 21,” Campbell said.
Campbell's program has helped dozens of teens facing gun, drug and assault charges get their records expunged and essentially start over.
The study looks at several factors for the neighborhoods with the highest incarceration rates.
In North Nashville, 14 percent of residents are living behind bars and 42 percent of children in that neighborhood are living in poverty.
In East Nashville, where the incarceration rate is 9 percent, 29 percent of children are living in poverty.
“We are so accustomed at this point, for the past few years, for being in this 'in-city' scenario, so it maybe is helpful to be grounded in the fact we have challenges in this city,” said District 19 Councilman Freddie O’Connell.
One O’Connell’s biggest initiatives are dropping those numbers and making resources available for those getting out of prison to get jobs.
“Any Nashvillians who have additional means can help lift up their fellow neighbors and community members,” O’Connell said.
Here are a few of the programs available for ex-felons and low-income families in Nashville: Opportunity NOW Financial Empowerment Center Metro School's Community Achieves Program The Family Center Project ReturnTo read the Brookings Institution's full study, CLICK HERE.
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